How old is Wes Unseld Jr?
The 49-year old Unseld Jr. grew up around the franchise. WTOPWizards announce Wes Unseld Jr. as new head coach
17 July, 2021 - 02:58pm
Wes Unseld Jr. has agreed to a four-year contract to be the next head coach of the Washington Wizards, sources told ESPN.
The Wizards formally announced the hiring on Saturday. Unseld is expected to be introduced as the head coach in a news conference Monday.
Washington officials completed an agreement with the Denver Nuggets associate head coach and his agent, Brian Elfus, on Saturday on a long-term deal to replace Scott Brooks.
"Wes is one of the most highly-regarded assistant coaches in the NBA and clearly separated himself from the large and diverse group of candidates we considered," Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard said in a statement. "His strong record as an in-game tactician along with his attention to detail on both sides of the ball combined with his reputation for player development and outstanding character during his 20-plus years of coaching left no doubt that he was the best choice to guide our team to the next level."
Unseld was raised in the Wizards organization, working for 14 years in scouting and coaching roles before moving on to become one of the league's rising star assistant coaches.
His return to Washington punctuates a remarkable homecoming. His late father, Wes Unseld Sr., is the most important figure in franchise history as a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame player, coach and executive with Washington.
Unseld Jr. completed two days of interviews in Washington, D.C. on Friday, including with owner Ted Leonsis, and received an offer later in the day to become the franchise's next head coach, sources said.
"I want to thank Tommy and Mr. Leonsis for the opportunity to lead this talented team both on and off the court and to continue moving the franchise in a positive direction," Unseld Jr. said in a statement. "Becoming a head coach in the NBA is a goal that I have pursued my entire adult life and to have that dream realized by coming full circle back to Washington is truly special. I look forward to representing the DMV [Washington, D.C. metropolitan area], connecting with our fans and establishing a new standard for Wizards basketball."
He will be the seventh Black head coach hired out of eight openings this offseason in the NBA. New Orleans is finalizing an agreement with Suns assistant Willie Green, and Portland (Chauncey Billups), Atlanta (Nate McMillan), Orlando (Jamahl Mosely), Boston (Ime Udoka) and Dallas (Jason Kidd) hired Black coaches. Four of them -- including Unseld Jr., Mosely, Billups and Green -- are former assistants getting first-time opportunities as head coaches.
Unseld Jr. spent the past six seasons with the Nuggets, where he played a part in one of the league's most impressive constructions of a championship contender. He helped the franchise to significant improvement as the team's defensive coordinator.
He replaces Brooks, who was let go after five seasons as head coach. The Wizards reached the Eastern Conference playoffs, losing in five games to No. 1 seed Philadelphia. The Wizards cornerstone star, Bradley Beal, has one year left on his contract. Before joining the Nuggets, Unseld Jr. had assistant coaching jobs with Golden State and Orlando. He was also a finalist for the Magic job that went to Mosley last week.
Wes Unseld Sr. died a year ago. He was the NBA's MVP in 1969, and won the 1978 NBA Finals MVP in leading Washington to its only NBA championship.
17 July, 2021 - 10:59am
Six of seven available positions filled by African American coaches
Unseld Jr. and Green are two examples of how African American coaches are finally gaining opportunities in the NBA, as previously coaches in the league had predominantly been white.
In fact, six of the seven available coaching positions at the start of this summer have been taken on by African American coaches, such as Chauncey Billups at the Portland Trail Blazers, Ime Udoka at the Boston Celtics and Jamahl Mosley at the Orlando Magic.
This has not come about by accident, as a number of teams openly declared their intentions to bring diversity to their franchises this summer, such as the Wizards and the Pelicans.
As a result, a number of talented African American coaches will now have the chance to shine in the NBA after showing their outstanding coaching ability for a number of years.
Some of the best-performing teams in the NBA this season have been coached by African American coaches, as seen with Tyronn Lue, who led the LA Clippers to the Western Conference finals.
Arguably the most impressive of these achievements has been that of Monty Williams, whose Phoenix Suns are currently competing in the NBA Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks.