ARLINGTON, Va. — It shouldn’t surprise fans that Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis was happy with how his teams’ offseasons went.
“I thought both front offices had ‘A’ grades for their offseasons,” Leonsis told reporters Monday. “I think when a season ends you sit down and say, ‘This is what we want to accomplish.’ With the Wizards, it was we need to have more balance and more depth and be prepared for injuries.”
The Wizards added Austin Rivers in a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers and Jeff Green in free agency, bench scoring that Leonsis said he is excited the team brought in.
But the biggest offseason roster move for the Wizards was to sign center Dwight Howard, who has picked up a reputation as a malcontent and bad teammate while jumping from team to team this decade.
“I think that’s a media-generated issue, and I think it’s a basketball-related issue. He could have signed in many, many places,” Leonsis said. “Dwight is paid like a max player. We’re paying him the mid-level exception. He will be a great addition to the team. He wants to be here, and his skill set is what we needed — someone who can run, play defense and rebound.”
The moves the Wizards made did not necessarily become more urgent when LeBron James left the Eastern Conference to sign with the Lakers, Leonsis said.
“When you look at who we have to play against, Philadelphia is an up-and-coming team and they’re pretty strong down the middle,” Leonsis said. “We’ve got two really, really big, athletic players who are defensively minded, and they’ll be a handful. You have to look at which teams you’re playing, who you think you’ll play in the playoffs.”
As for the Capitals’ side, the defending Stanley Cup champions retained most of their core, trading Philipp Grubauer and letting Jay Beagle sign elsewhere in free agency while signing just one new face, Nic Dowd.
“The Caps’ offseason was equally as magnificent,” Leonsis said. “Most Stanley Cup-winning teams end up getting blown up and we’re returning everyone to this team except for two players. I’ll miss Jay Beagle very, very much. But to be able to keep the team together, I thought, was really really great work from our front office.”