Wes Unseld Jr., has agreed to a four-year deal to become the new head coach of the Washington Wizards, sources told ESPN on Saturday.
Washington officials completed an agreement with the Denver Nuggets associate head coach and his agent Brian Eflus on Saturday on a long-term deal to replace Scott Brooks, sources said.
Unseld’s return to DC punctuates a remarkable homecoming. His late father, Wes Unseld, 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.
He will be the seventh African American 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 African American coaches. Four of them — including Unseld Jr., Mosely, Billups and Green — are assistants getting first-time opportunities as head coaches.
Unseld Jr. was raised in the Wizards organization, working for 14 years in scouting and coaching roles before moving onto become one of the league’s rising star assistant coaches.
He 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.
Unseld Jr. 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 job with Golden State and Orlando. He was also a finalist for the Orlando 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 NBA Finals MVP in 1978 leading Washington to its only NBA championship.