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WFT president says list of names substantially narrowed down

WFT president says list of names substantially narrowed down

RICHMOND, Va. — Washington Football President Jason Wright said Thursday the organization has significantly trimmed the list of potential team names, with the unveiling expected before the 2022 NFL draft.In an interview with The Associated Press at a community event coinciding with training camp in Virginia’s capital, Wright said Washington is trying to be transparent with the rebranding process. He declined to reveal how many names were still under consideration.“We have them narrowed down substantially,” Wright told The AP. “So, there’s a small set of names that have been crafted into full visuals and logos and all that stuff that we’re going back and forth on.”The Washington Football Team is the official name for a second consecutive season after the club abandoned its old moniker in July 2020. Wright, who was hired in August, has said the new name will not have any Native American connotations or imagery.Wright has blogged about choosing a name that honors the franchise’s history, which includes three Super Bowl titles. Asked directly if a name had already been selected, he said, “I don’t want to scoop our team.”“It’s like a family heirloom and stewarding the movement of family heirloom is a weighty thing,” he told Washington radio station WTOP on Thursday. “It’s incredibly important we do the best we can to steward this right.”Long before Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians abruptly announced on Twitter last week that they are becoming the Guardians, Washington has been focused on transparency as part of the process so that fans can understand how the final decision was reached. More than 25,000 names were submitted, with alumni, season-ticket holders, women, military members and children among the digital focus groups the team canvassed for opinions.“We want it to be as open as it can possibly be,” Wright said. “We got a ton of input from fans over all the different stages of this process and continue to. We want people to be able to see where their input and where their fingerprints are on the entire process.”Washington is working with creative agency Code & Theory to rebrand an organization that recently underwent an independent investigation into workplace conduct and is in the midst of a culture change from the top down. Tanya Snyder has taken over day-to-day operation of the organization for the next several months, with husband Dan focusing on a new stadium deal and other business ventures.Wright and Tanya Snyder watched some of practice together Thursday. He called her a detailed listener and a savvy business leader who is “incredibly decisive in moments of ambiguity.”“That sort of confident and assertive leadership is great for us in all the different things we’re navigating,” he said.CAMP UPDATEAfter holding training camp in Richmond from 2013-2019, there is not currently an agreement in place for Washington — whatever the name is by then — to return next year or beyond. Mayor Levar Stoney is “bullish” on Washington keeping at least part of camp in his city, adding, “I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that happens.”Washington is looking for a new stadium site, with the lease at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland expiring in 2027. Locations in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia are under consideration.When that stadium is done, the team is expected to hold camp there, but from 2022 until then is still up in the air. One possibility is a deal to keep camp in Richmond if somewhere in Northern Virginia is picked for the stadium, though Stoney does not see the issues as necessarily tied together.Washington is doing four days of camp in Richmond this year before holding most of it at the regular practice facility in Ashburn, Virginia, near Dulles Airport.MORE ON COVID LISTWashington defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis, wide receiver Curtis Samuel, and cornerback Chris Miller joined offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas on the COVID-19 reserve list. Washington is the least-vaccinated team in the NFL at roughly 60%.Reigning AP Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young wore a mask when speaking with reporters Thursday after a training camp practice, which is required for unvaccinated players, and would not give his status.“I’m not going to disclose my personal information,” Young said. “I hope you all can respect that, but I respect everybody’s decision. What I’m going to do — I’m just going to make sure the protocols that the NFL and NFLPA guidelines they put together, I’m just going to make sure me and my teammates follow that the best we can.”Coach Ron Rivera, who is immune deficient after undergoing treatments for a form of skin cancer last year, said he is wearing a mask around unvaccinated players. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on Thursday said he is vaccinated.———More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP—NFL

Rivera opens Washington camp frustrated by vaccine hesitancy

Rivera opens Washington camp frustrated by vaccine hesitancy

Ron Rivera opened Washington’s training camp expressing frustration about a lack of vaccinations among playersBy STEPHEN WHYNO AP Sports WriterJuly 27, 2021, 9:34 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleRICHMOND, Va. — Ron Rivera opened Washington’s training camp Tuesday by expressing frustration about a lack of vaccinations among players, which has caused the cancer survivor to practice extra caution.Rivera said he believed Washington is now over half the players in camp fully vaccinated. The NFL last week said 80% of players have started the vaccination process and that 27 of 32 teams had at least 70% of players either receive one vaccination shot or both.Washington is not one of them — actually closer to 60% — and it has caused Rivera to take precautions.“I’m truly frustrated,” Rivera said at his camp-opening news conference. “I’m beyond frustrated. One of the reasons I walked in with a mask on is I’m immune-deficient, so with this new variant, who knows? So when I’m in a group and the group’s not vaccinated or there’s a mixture, I put the mask on, and I do that for health reasons.”Rivera was treated for skin cancer last year. His players’ vaccination hesitancy is one of many questions going into Rivera’s second camp as Washington’s coach.Washington was one of two teams under 50% vaccinated in mid-July. Offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas was placed on the NFL’s COVID-19 reserve list Tuesday.The league sent a memo to teams Thursday telling them that an outbreak among nonvaccinated players could lead to forfeits with players on both teams not getting paid.“It could be a huge, huge disadvantage,” he said, citing Denver’s virus outbreak last season that caused the Broncos to start a rookie receiver at quarterback. “Based on the rules, you’re risking not just your paycheck but other people’s paychecks, too, if there’s no game played. I think that’s something that we all have to think about.”And it’s not like Rivera and his staff haven’t tried. Washington brought in Harvard immunologist Kizzmekia S. Corbett, who helped develop the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, to speak with players during minicamp in June. Third-year pass rusher Montez Sweat at the time said he doesn’t support the team’s attempt to persuade players to get vaccinated and “probably won’t get vaccinated until I got more facts and that type of stuff.”“We have a group of guys that want more information and the frustrating part is we’re trying to provide it as quickly and as much as possible,” Rivera said. “They still have to make their own decisions.”The football questions facing Washington include safety Landon Collins’ injury status, All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff’s long-term future, and the impending quarterback competition between free agent addition Ryan Fitzpatrick, Rivera favorite Kyle Allen and surprise playoff performer Taylor Heinecke.Collins, who had surgery on his torn left Achilles tendon last fall, was not one of the players put on the physically unable to perform list Tuesday. Receiver Curtis Samuel and cornerback Greg Stroman went on PUP, while safety Deshazor Everett and defensive tackle Tim Settle were put on the non-football illness list.Scherff is playing a second consecutive season on the franchise tag and is all but certain to leave before 2022 if he and the team cannot work out a multiyear contract.Washington answered a couple of questions on the eve of camp, which begins in earnest for players Wednesday with the first full practice. Defensive tackle Jonathan Allen agreed to terms on a four-year extension through 2025 worth $72 million, and tight end Logan Thomas got a three-year extension beyond this season.Rivera was glad to get those deals done.“These are guys we believe fit us going into the future,” he said. “It gives them some stability, and it shows other players that we most certainly are working to keep our own. That’s how you build a team: You sign those guys and keep those guys around.”Coming off an NFC East title at 7-9 and a loss to eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay in the wild-card round, Rivera’s message to players is that “it’s go time.” That could include going to get a vaccine shot given the concern about rising virus rates for those who have not been inoculated.“The thing that still looms over our head unfortunately is the whole COVID situation,” Rivera said. “As a football team, as individuals, we have to understand what’s truly at stake in terms of opportunities going forward, and we’ll see. We’ll see how it all unfolds, and to some degree this tells us a little about us.”———More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP—NFL

Tom Brady, champion Buccaneers visit Biden at White House

Tom Brady, champion Buccaneers visit Biden at White House

WASHINGTON — Tom Brady embraced his inner comedian to deliver jokes at old friend Donald Trump’s expense Tuesday when he and the Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers visited President Joe Biden at the White House, the first visit by the reigning NFL champions since 2017.The seven-time Super Bowl champion who once was gifted a “Make America Great Again” hat from Trump that he displayed in his locker at Gillette Stadium compared those backing Trump’s false assertion that he won the 2020 election to people who couldn’t believe the underdog Buccaneers beat the Kansas City Chiefs.“Not a lot of people think that we could have won, and in fact I think about 40% of the people still don’t think we won,” Brady said. “You understand that, Mr. President?”“I understand that,” Biden responded.Brady also played off Trump’s derisive “Sleepy Joe” nickname for Biden when talking about a time he forgot what down it was.“I lost track of one down in 21 years of playing, and they started calling me ‘Sleepy Tom,’” Brady said with a grin. “Why would they do that to me?”It was Brady’s first visit since 2005 with the New England Patriots when George W. Bush was in office. Brady has won the Super Bowl during four different administrations but skipped visits by the Patriots in 2015 with Barack Obama and 2017 with Trump. The Patriots as a team chose not to attend after winning in 2019.Brady was front and center this time, one of 42 Bucs players accompanying Biden, coach Bruce Arians and owner Bryan Glazer to the ceremony, which included more than just his jokes. There was some pointed political commentary from Arians and a push from the president for players to get vaccinated against the coronavirus if they hadn’t already.Arians quickly shifted from extolling his Buccaneers’ guiding principles of “trust, loyalty, and respect” that focused the team on “one team, one cause” to taking an indirect dig at Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill who have opposed elements of the president’s agenda.“I hope the Senate and the House start helping you,” Arians said to Biden. “One team, one cause.”Biden was presented with the traditional gift of a No. 46 jersey — which Glazer said was appropriate since Tampa Bay is heading into its 46th season as a franchise. With the sun beating down in the late morning, Biden told players to take their suit jackets off following a group picture, but those in attendance next to the Lombardi Trophy didn’t mind.“I know the guys really, really enjoyed it, even with the heat,” said Arians, who’s eager for the Buccaneers to get their Super Bowl rings Thursday and move on to next season with training camp opening next week. “I just told them it’s another work day. We got to get a workout in today, so standing in the sun’s a good one.”Before baking in the sun, players Donovan Smith and Bradley Pinion from the team’s social justice committee met with Vice President Kamala Harris to talk about voting rights, a subject the Buccaneers have prioritized.“It feels like it gives us validity or the weight of some of the stuff that we were doing in Tampa, especially around voting and getting people to vote,” offensive lineman Ali Marpet said after the ceremony. “As an organization we’re really trying to be leaders in (that area), and that was a big point of emphasis for her.”Talking about how nearly 200,000 vaccine doses were given out at Raymond James Stadium — the Buccaneers’ home and where they won the Super Bowl — Biden turned to dozens of players behind him and said: “If you don’t have a shot, get one, OK? Get one, get one, get one. You’re saving lives, helping us get back to our lives and our loved ones.”Biden also lauded NFL efforts to promote COVID-19 vaccinations.White House press secretary Jen Psaki did not directly answer when asked if the Buccaneers provided information on which team attendees were vaccinated. Over half of their traveling party of players coached and staff has been fully vaccinated, and while 10 NFL teams as of Friday had reached the 85% threshold it’s unclear if Tampa Bay was one of them.Biden in his prepared remarks singled out receiver Chris Godwin, like himself Pennsylvania-born and Delaware-raised, who he spoke with before the Super Bowl.“I wasn’t expecting it, so it definitely took me by surprise,” Godwin said afterward. “He gave me a call the day before the Super Bowl, and I was shocked then. We chatted, had a five-, 10-minute talk, talked about Delaware a little bit and he wished me good luck. That was an honor for me. Then he was kind enough to send me a letter afterwards congratulating me on the win and congratulating the team.”As the oldest person to become president, Biden compared himself to Brady being the oldest quarterback and Arians the oldest coach to win it all.“You won’t hear any jokes about that from me,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing wrong with being the oldest guy to make it to the mountaintop.”———Associated Press writer Aamer Madhani contributed to this report.———More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP—NFL

Wizards draw on storied name, hire Wes Unseld Jr as coach

Wizards draw on storied name, hire Wes Unseld Jr as coach

The Washington Wizards have hired Wes Unseld Jr. as their coachBy STEPHEN WHYNO AP Sports WriterJuly 17, 2021, 8:46 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleWASHINGTON — Wes Unseld Jr. was hired as coach of the Washington Wizards on Saturday, bringing the former Denver Nuggets assistant full circle with the franchise his father led to its only NBA title.Unseld carries a strong resume apart from his name. He spent the past six years with the Nuggets and was promoted to associate coach under Michael Malone last season.He began his career with Washington as a scout in 1997 before working his way up to assistant coach, a job he held from 2005-2011.“Becoming a head coach in the NBA is a goal that I have pursued my entire adult life,” Unseld said. “To have that dream realized by coming full circle back to Washington is truly special.”Unseld spent one season with Golden State and two with Orlando between his stints in Washington and Denver. With the Nuggets, he helped the developments of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.“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.“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, a Maryland native who went to Johns Hopkins, replaces Scott Brooks, who was fired after three playoff appearances in five seasons.His name carries value in the District of Columbia and surrounding areas for Wes Unseld’s role in the Washington Bullets winning the NBA championship in 1978. Unseld was the Finals MVP, and his No. 41 hangs in the rafters at the Wizards’ arena.“Tommy was very thorough during our search and the intelligence, information and recommendations he had gathered on Wes were exceeded by how impressive his preparation and planning were during the interview process,” owner Ted Leonsis said. “We are excited to bring him on board and see those attributes in action with our players and in the community with our fans.”———More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Year since Washington change, Native sports imagery evolving

Year since Washington change, Native sports imagery evolving

Washington will not have any kind of Native American imagery as part of its next name, and the subject is still evolving across sports in the year since the storied NFL franchise dropped arguably the most polarizing moniker left in the pros.Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary since Washington dropped the name Redskins and the accompanying Indian head logo after 87 years amid pressure from sponsors and decades of criticism that they are offensive to Native Americans. The Washington Football Team will be around for one more season, with a new name set to be revealed in early 2022.With Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians set to adopt a new name at some point and the Atlanta Braves, NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks and NCAA’s Florida State Seminoles holding on to theirs at least for now, Washington’s process is the furthest along and bears watching as the possibilities get narrowed down.“The Washington Football Team’s announcement that they will not be using Native American imagery is a major step towards reconciliation, justice and equality, but there’s still more work to be done,” said Crystal Echo Hawk, founder and executive director of Native American-led nonprofit IllumiNative. “This is a step in the right direction, we ask that the NFL, MLB, and NHL urge the Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Braves, and Chicago Blackhawks to follow Washington Football Team president Jason Wright’s lead in order to stand on the right side of history.”Wright, who was named Washington’s team president in August, ruled out Warriors in a lengthy post on the team’s website Monday, saying feedback from Native American communities showed “deep-seated discomfort” about that name.“Failing to acknowledge our past use of Native imagery in the consideration of the new name wouldn’t be mindful of the individuals and communities that were hurt by the previous name,” Wright said. “We will choose an identity that unequivocally departs from any use of or approximate linkage to Native American imagery.”Wright said Washington is “down to a short list” of names to choose from. After several months of chatter about “R” options such as Redwolves, Redtails/Red Tails or Redhawks, it’s even possible “Red” is taken out of the equation entirely.That would distance Washington from the old name more than changes at the college level in the 1990s: St. John’s going from Redmen to Red Storm and Miami of Ohio dropping Redskins to become the RedHawks.Wright said team officials are “confident that our new brand identity will honor our legacy and lead us into our future as a franchise.”As the latest reckoning over racial injustice, iconography and racism continues in the U.S., Washington is far from the only franchise considering a change, while others defend the status quo.FOOTBALLProtests have followed the Chiefs on two Super Bowl trips, and last fall they barred headdresses and war paint for fans at Arrowhead Stadium. They’re still facing calls to abandon a tradition of fans breaking into a “war chant” while making a chopping hand motion designed to mimic the Native American tomahawk — which is not unique to Kansas City.A coalition of Native American groups put up billboards in the Kansas City area to protest the tomahawk chop and Chiefs’ name.North of the border, Edmonton of the Canadian Football League reversed field last summer by dropping the name Eskimos in the aftermath of Washington’s decision, temporarily becoming the EE Football Team. On June 1, Elks was announced as Edmonton’s new name.BASEBALLCleveland and Atlanta appear to be at opposite ends of the spectrum.Cleveland announced in December it was dropping Indians and, like Washington, is vetting a final list of possibilities. While Cleveland has not given a firm timetable on a new name, owner Paul Dolan told The Associated Press in December it will not have any association with anything Native American.The Braves have resisted calls for a name change. The team has not waivered from a firm statement in a letter to season-ticket holders in 2020 that said: “We will always be the Atlanta Braves.”Even the “tomahawk chop” has returned with fans this season after a Cardinals pitcher said during the 2019 playoffs that it was disrespectful, and the team stopped encouraging the chant. The death of Hall of Famer Hank Aaron in January prompted some fans to propose an Atlanta Hammers switch to honor ”Hammerin’ Hank.”HOCKEYThe Chicago Blackhawks have shown no signs of considering a name change any time soon, with the club contending it honors Black Hawk, a Native American leader from Illinois’ Sac & Fox Nation. CEO Danny Wirtz said in December that the Blackhawks “continue to deepen our commitment to upholding our namesake and our brand.”Like the Chiefs, the Blackhawks banned headdresses at home games as part of their pledge to honor the Native American community, which the team has tried to strengthen ties with over the past year.COLLEGEAfter Miami of Ohio, St. John’s, Syracuse, North Dakota and others made changes, a handful of U.S. colleges and universities maintained Native American nicknames for sports teams and received waivers from the NCAA because of support from local tribes. Those includes the Florida State Seminoles, Utah Utes and Central Michigan Chippewas.Illinois retired the Chief Illiniwek mascot in 2007 but has kept the Fighting Illini name.K-12 SCHOOLSThe National Congress of American Indians reports 29 schools in the U.S. have moved away from a Native American name or imagery so far in 2021. It’s not clear how many more changes happened in the immediate aftermath of Washington’s decision from July 13-Dec. 31 2020.The NCAI’s National School Mascot Tracking Database lists 1,890 schools with Native American mascots.———AP Sports Writers Tom Withers, Charles Odum and Jay Cohen contributed.———More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP—NFL

NFL fines Washington $10M after misconduct investigation

NFL fines Washington $10M after misconduct investigation

The NFL has fined the Washington Football Team $10 million and owner Dan Snyder is stepping away from day-to-day operations after an independent investigation into the organization’s workplace misconductBy STEPHEN WHYNO AP Sports WriterJuly 1, 2021, 9:36 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe NFL has fined the Washington Football Team $10 million and owner Dan Snyder is stepping away from day-to-day operations for several months after an independent investigation found the organization’s workplace “highly unprofessional,” especially for women.The team was not stripped of any draft picks and no formal suspensions were handed out as part of the league’s discipline that was announced Thursday stemming from lawyer Beth Wilkinson’s investigation that began last summer.The investigation, commissioner by the club amid allegations from employees and taken over by the league, revealed that ownership and senior officials paid little attention to sexual harassment and other workplace issues. NFL special counsel for investigations Lisa Friel described it as a culture of fear.”The culture at the club was very toxic, and it fell far short of the NFL’s values and we hold ownership to a higher standard,” Friel said.Lawyers representing 40 former Washington employees slammed the NFL for choosing to protect Snyder and ignoring requests to make the report public, calling the fine “pocket change.”“This is truly outrageous and is a slap in the face to the hundreds of women and former employees who came forward in good faith and at great personal risk to report a culture of abuse at all levels of the team, including by Snyder himself,” lawyers Lisa Banks and Debra Katz said in a statement.“The NFL has effectively told survivors in this country and around the world that it does not care about them or credit their experiences.”The league said Wilkinson interviewed more than 150 people, including current and former employees. Friel said individual allegations were not made part of Wilkinson’s findings because of confidentiality agreements requested by many people and that there was no written report, only an oral presentation.Snyder said his wife Tanya will be in charge for the “next several months” while he focuses on efforts for a new stadium and other business ventures. Tanya Snyder was named co-CEO on Tuesday. The NFL made no mention of Snyder being formally suspended.Janet Nova, the league’s deputy general counsel for media and business affairs, said Dan Snyder stepping away for this period of time — through the fall — was “voluntary” and not a mandate. Tanya Snyder will represent Washington at all league functions.Banks and Katz called Tanya Snyder’s promotion a “shallow attempt to show progress without making any meaningful changes to the organization.”Wilkinson recommended establishing protocols for reporting harassment, a disciplinary action plan and regular training for employees. She also said the cheerleading team — which is now a co-ed dance team as part of an organizational overhaul of game-day entertainment — needed to be protected.The league praised Snyder for hiring Ron Rivera as coach in early 2020 and Jason Wright as team president last summer among those changes to improve the organization’s culture.“Over the past 18 months, Dan and Tanya have recognized the need for change and have undertaken important steps to make the workplace comfortable and dignified for all employees,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “Those changes, if sustained and built upon, should allow the club to achieve its goal of having a truly first-tier workplace.”Friel said Wilkinson was not tasked with making any recommendations about Dan Snyder selling the team or being suspended.“I was addressing the accountability as we relayed it in the release that the Commissioner has imposed and which he feels is the best way to address the findings that were communicated to us from the investigation and part of that is to ensure that the cultural changes that have happened over the last 18 months are sustained going forward,” Friel said.Snyder said in a statement he agrees with the commissioner’s decisions and is “committed to implementing his investigation’s important recommendations.”“I have learned a lot in the past few months about how my club operated, and the kind of workplace that we had. It is now clear that the culture was not what it should be, but I did not realize the extent of the problems, or my role in allowing that culture to develop and continue,” Snyder said. “I know that as the owner I am ultimately responsible for the workplace.”———More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP—NFL

Washington Wizards fire coach Scott Brooks after 5 seasons

Washington Wizards fire coach Scott Brooks after 5 seasons

The Washington Wizards have decided to move on from coach Scott Brooks after five seasonsBy STEPHEN WHYNO AP Sports WriterJune 16, 2021, 9:52 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleWASHINGTON — Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal and the Wizards will have another coach next season after general manager Tommy Sheppard decided the organization is better off moving on from coach Scott Brooks.Washington made the playoffs three times under Brooks but has just one series victory to show for his five-year tenure. That postseason success came in his first season in 2016-17 with the Wizards.“I wouldn’t say it didn’t work out — I just think it’s time to move on,” Sheppard said in a video news conference Wednesday. “It’s about the future and where we can go and kind of looking at where the areas are that we struggled in the past with and what we’re prepared to do to get better in those areas.”The Wizards were eliminated in five games in the first round by Eastern Conference top-seeded Philadelphia. They went 183-207 overall during the regular season with Brooks as coach and struggled defensively.Washington allowed the most points in the NBA last season and the second-most in the previous two years. They never ranked better than 15th in the league defensively under Brooks.“You’ve got to take a good hard look at the defensive end,” said Sheppard, who inherited Brooks from predecessor Ernie Grunfeld when he took over as GM two years ago. “You’ve got to look to see efficiency-wise can we be better offensively, defensively and that’s kind of what we’re going to be leaning towards and looking at very hard.”Grunfeld brought in Brooks five years ago in hopes of luring Washington area native Kevin Durant home to play for the Wizards. Since then, John Wall missed time with injuries and was traded to Houston for Russell Westbrook, and Beal emerged as Washington’s top scorer, but that didn’t amount to much postseason success.Washington is now one of six teams with the coaching job open in the NBA, joining Orlando, Portland, Boston, Indiana and New Orleans. The Pelicans, like the Wizards, had their job come open Wednesday when it was revealed that Stan Van Gundy was out in New Orleans after one season.Sheppard said he was “getting bombarded” with messages about coaches interested in joining Washington, despite the franchise not making it past the second round in more than 40 years.”I’m not worried about people that are interested in working as the head coach of the Washington Wizards,” he said. “Certainly we have our criteria and the process that we’re going to go through. It’s going to be a very thorough, very diverse, very robust search.”Many of the potential candidates for the now half-dozen openings will be crossovers: Chauncey Billups and David Vanterpool are on several of the lists, as are past head coaches like Terry Stotts (who left Portland) and current Brooklyn assistant Mike D’Antoni.It also raises the chance that the NBA could see a female coach for the first time, with longtime San Antonio assistant Becky Hammon, Duke coach and former Boston assistant Kara Lawson, South Carolina coach and current U.S. women’s national team coach Dawn Staley and New Orleans assistant Teresa Weatherspoon the most prominent women on the lists of candidates.Lawson has a connection to the Wizards after serving as a television analyst for them.Brooks had been the seventh longest-tenured coach in his current job. He was hired in 2016; only San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, Miami’s Erik Spoelstra, Dallas’ Rick Carlisle, Golden State’s Steve Kerr, Utah’s Quin Snyder and Denver’s Michael Malone have had their current jobs longer.Sheppard praised Brooks for “keeping this team together through some of the most difficult, dark moments probably in franchise history.” He wasn’t the only one supportive of Brooks’ performance as a lame-duck coach.”He did a job that I’m pretty sure people didn’t think he was able to do,” said Westbrook, who previously was coached by Brooks with the Oklahoma City Thunder. “He kept us together. He kept us encouraged. He kept us fighting.”Brooks said at the time he “wouldn’t want to move on” from the Wizards, who are now looking for their sixth coach since 2009. It was not his call.“The decision was mine to move forward that we were not going to renew contracts,” Sheppard said. “In terms of where we are and where we need to be, it was a decision I made.”———AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds and AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich contributed.———More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports