Wes Unseld Jr. has agreed to a four-year contract to become the new head coach of the Washington Wizards, sources told ESPN on Saturday.
Washington officials completed a deal with 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 marks a remarkable homecoming. His late father, Wes Unseld, is the most important figure in the history of the Washington franchise as a player, coach and executive of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Unseld Jr., completed two days of interviews in Washington DC on Friday, including with owner Ted Leonsis, and received an offer later that 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. The New Orleans Pelicans are finalizing a deal with Suns assistant Willie Green and the Portland Trail Blazers (Chauncey Billups), Atlanta Hawks (Nate McMillan), Orlando Magic (Jamahl Mosely), Boston Celtics (Ime Udoka) and Dallas. Mavericks (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. grew up in the Wizards organization, working for 14 years in scouting and coaching roles before becoming one of the league’s rising star assistant coaches.
He spent the past six seasons with the Nuggets, where he participated in one of the league’s most impressive builds of a championship contender. He helped the franchise improve significantly as the team’s defensive coordinator.
Unseld Jr. replaces Brooks, who was fired after five seasons as head coach. The Wizards made the Eastern Conference playoffs, losing in five games to the No. 1 seed Philadelphia 76ers. Wizards star Bradley Beal has one year left on his contract. Before joining the Nuggets, Unseld Jr. worked as an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors and Orlando. He was also a finalist for the Orlando job that went to Mosley last week.
Wes Unseld Sr., died a year ago. He was the Most Valuable Player of the NBA in 1969 and won the Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals in 1978, leading Washington to its only NBA championship.