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Wizards hire interim coach Brian Keefe as full-time head coach



Brian Keefe, the interim head coach of the Washington Wizards last season, has been hired as the team’s full-time head coach, the team announced Wednesday. Keefe was initially an assistant in Washington under head coach Wes Unseld Jr. However, Unseld was relieved of his duties as head coach and moved into a front-office role in January. He has since moved on to take an assistant role with the Chicago Bulls. Keefe took over for him and went 8-31 down the stretch. That may not seem like a great record, but it was an improvement upon Unseld’s 7-36 mark to begin the season.

Prior to becoming Washington’s interim coach, Keefe was a longtime NBA assistant for a number of teams. After playing college ball at UC Irving and UCLA, Keefe began his coaching career as a college assistant, first at South Florida and then at Bryant. He made the jump to the NBA in 2007, joining the Seattle Supersonics and moving with them to Oklahoma City. 

When Thunder point guard Derek Fisher was hired as head coach of the New York Knicks in 2015, he brought Keefe with him to the Big Apple. From there, he went on to work as an assistant for the Los Angeles Lakers, Thunder again, Brooklyn Nets, and then, finally, the Wizards. He has been lauded in the past for his work as a developmental coach, a necessity for a young Wizards roster at the very beginning of a rebuild.

Wizards president Michael Winger began that rebuild last offseason when he traded Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis, and Washington is still far away from having a contending roster. Rookie lottery pick Bilal Coulibaly showed promise last season, and the Wizards are set to pick No. 2 in June’s NBA Draft, but otherwise, there are no other players on the roster that project as long-term cornerstones.

Still, the mere fact that Washington is engaging in a rebuild in this manner after so many years of floundering in the middle of the standings is notable. Keefe’s hiring as a head coach with experience developing younger players fits well within that plan. The Wizards are years away from meaningful winning, but they are laying the groundwork for eventual improvement now with every move they make.

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