Bulls

Bears promote from within in personnel department

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Bears promote from within in personnel department

The Bears went with a former member of the scouting staff when they hired Phil Emery to replace Jerry Angelo as general manager earlier this offseason.

They have stayed in-house again with his two top personnel directors among changes that significantly expand the Bears' personnel department.

The shakeup in the front office that began with exits of pro personnel director Bobby DePaul and college scouting director Greg Gabriel two years ago largely concluded Tuesday with the promotions of former scouts Chris Ballard and Marty Barrett to directors of pro and college scouting, in addition to a number of other changes and hirings.

The moves are part of an overall expansion of the player personnel department from 12 to 18 staffers under Emery.

Ballard and Barrett return the organizational chart to its form prior to the DePaul and Gabriel dismissals, after which those two posts were consolidated under player personnel director Tim Ruskell the past two years.

The focus during the selection process for the directors position was not whether the scout came from a pro or college background, rather it was their level of skill as communicators and evaluators, Emery said. We were also looking for people with a successful background in coaching, organizational and administrative experience.

Ballard was the Bears Southwest area scout for the past 11 years after coaching seven seasons at Texas A&M-Kingsville while current Bear center Roberto Garza was a member of the Javelins.

Barrett, who was hired by Mark Hatley in 1997 has been a Bears scout since 1997 after three years with the New Orleans Saints, scouting the West Region for both organizations. He now has worked for Mark Hatley, Jerry Angelo and Emery.

Former Bears cornerback Dwayne Joseph and Kevin Turks will both work as assistant directors of pro scouting.

Joseph has 14 years of experience in scouting and football operations, spending the last eight seasons with the Miami Dolphins serving as a pro scout, adding the title of assistant director of pro personnel for one season in 2007.

Turks is in his 11th season with the Chicago Bears and his fifth as assistant director of pro personnel. He has worked as a pro scout for the Bears since 2002 after serving as an intern in Chicagos scouting department in 2001.

Jeff Shiver will serve as the Bears executive scoutassistant director of college scouting with a focus on the Big Ten Conference. He has 28 years of NFL scouting experience and is in his 26th year with the team. Shiver previously worked as an area scout for the Bears focusing on the Midwest region.

Rex Hogan and Mark Sadowski will both work as national scouts, working the West and East regions, respectively. Hogan joined the Bears as a college scout in 2003 after working five years in college football at the University of Utah and the University of Notre Dame in the areas of recruiting and football operations.

Sadowski has 15 years of scouting experience with the New Orleans Saints (1998-2005) and Bears (2005-12). He has served as Chicagos Southeast area scout after working in New Orleans as a pro scout (1998-99), NFS combine scout (2000) and Southeast area scout (2001-05).

Ted Monago, who is in his 12th season in the Bears scouting department, will serve as an executive scout with a focus on the Southeastern Conference. Monago has worked as an area scout for the Bears since 2003 after working as the teams BLESTO scout for two seasons.

Robyn Wilkey will serve as the executive assistantscouting coordinator in her 15th season with the Bears.

Kent Kahl, James Kirkland, Francis Saint-Paul and Sam Summerville will serve as area scouts.

Kahl will be Chicagos Central States area scout after serving as a regional scout with the San Francisco 49ers since 2007.

Kirkland, in his third year with the team, will be the Bears Atlantic area scout. Prior to his time in Chicago, Kirkland spent six seasons with the Cleveland Browns, including three as assistant director, pro personnel. He also worked one season as a volunteer scouting intern with the Atlanta Falcons in 2003.

Saint-Paul will serve as Chicagos West area scout after working on Northern Arizonas coaching staff for five years, including the last four as a wide receivers coach.

Summerville will be the Bears East area scout after serving as a player personnel assistant with the Browns (2009-12) and pro personnel assistant with the Eagles (2007-09).

The Bears has also hired Breck Ackley, Bobby Macedo, Zach Truty and David Williams as scouting assistants. Ackley joins the Bears personnel department after working two seasons as a graduate assistant football coach at Southern University.

Macedo comes to Chicago after spending the 2011 season as a running backs coach for Millikin University in Decatur, Ill. Truty served as director of player personnel for the Arizona Rattlers in 2011 after working as a recruiting coordinator for Eastern Michigan University for two years. Williams joins Chicago after working as player personnel assistant for the Kansas City Chiefs this past year. He has also served as a football operations intern and equipment intern for the Cleveland Browns.

It's Bobby's World in Bulls' lottery-improving loss to 76ers

It's Bobby's World in Bulls' lottery-improving loss to 76ers

The final 25 games was supposed to be all about the development of the Bulls’ recent acquisitions and securing a record worthy of one of the last three envelopes at the NBA Draft Lottery.

Only Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn seemed to matter, with Cameron Payne and Cristiano Felicio being the perfect window dressing for development as opposed to just saying a team is tanking.

But Bobby Portis is making a case that he isn’t to be forgotten in the big picture, that his worth is more than just being a punchline to the jokes that followed his incident with Nikola Mirotic.

The only thing Portis didn’t do right in the Bulls’ 116-115 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers was missing a point blank shot that would’ve given the Bulls an improbable and unwanted win, and it would’ve given him 40 points.

Instead he had to settle for a career-high 38 as Joel Embiid was bearing down on Portis when he caught a diagonal pass from Dunn with 1.1 seconds left, having the shorter T.J. McConnell on him and taking a power dribble to gather himself.

“If I could go back I would’ve just went up the first time off the glass like I always do,” Portis said. “We just have to try to close out games better.”

Embiid showed he’s worth all the trouble with his health problems, scoring 30 with 13 rebounds and five rebounds while Ben Simmons put up 32 with 11 assists and seven rebounds as the 76ers improved to 31-25, good enough for seventh place in the East.

In a game that featured remarkable resolve from a purposely undermanned Bulls team as they sat Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday, they put themselves in position to win after trailing by 18 early. After leading by five courtesy of a LaVine walk-down triple with 1:02 left, they made a couple critical errors that allowed the 76ers to steal a game the Bulls won’t mind them taking at the end of 82.

Denzel Valentine’s inbounds pass with 5.9 seconds left was intended for LaVine, but Embiid stepped in front for a steal as they were in position to make it a free-throw game the rest of the way.

Similar to the Bulls’ unlikely win over the Orlando Magic before the All-Star break, they returned the favor as 76ers rookie Ben Simmons made free throws after the steal to give the visitors a one-point lead, setting the stage for the final play.

If learning lessons is what the last 100 quarters of basketball is supposed to be about, the Bulls got a big-time lesson in a game that ultimately means nothing.

“These are learning opportunities for our team,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “I couldn’t be happier, the way we went out and competed. We dug ourselves an 18-point hold and (fought) our way back—have complete control of the game.”

Control was wrestled from the 76ers by Portis’ able and quick hands. Taking more of a scoring posture since Mirotic’s departure, Portis has never been shy about being aggressive.

But now he’s being encouraged in that department, playing a big part in the Bulls’ tying their franchise record of 18 triples with six of his own, scoring 21 in the first half and not backing down one step from the massive Embiid.

“I kind of struggled from (three) in the last six, seven games,” said Portis, who didn’t take much time off during the All-Star break. “I think I’ve shown this entire year, trying to stay consistent and be a spark off the bench.”

Counting the last two games before the break, Portis has been on the best scoring binge of his career—cementing his place in the league when just a few months ago, many were questioning if the Bulls should’ve actually picked up his player option following the Mirotic incident.

His 25.0 points in the last three, along with scoring in double figures for seven straight games are career-bests. With every flex, every energetic plea to the crowd and resourceful score underneath the rim, Portis is becoming a player the Bulls can’t afford to plan without.

The stage was set for a Portis breakout shortly after the incident, when he was serving his suspension to start the season. When the Bulls traveled to Miami and Orlando, he flew on his own to Orlando for dinner with his mentor, former NBA veteran and Magic assistant coach Corliss Williamson.

Williamson, a player who was not to be trifled with during his career, told Portis essentially, “this too shall pass”.

“Just play your game,” Williamson told NBCSportsChicago.com recently. “Don’t put any pressure on yourself about what’s gonna happen after this year. What’s got him here is hard work, how hard he plays in the game. He continues to do that, he’ll be successful.”

Portis recalled the dinner where he was finally able to confide and unleash after weeks of frustration. Calling Williamson a father figure dating back to their Arkansas roots, where Portis played on Williamson’s AAU teams in middle school, Portis put his trust in him and came back reinvigorated.

“We talked for hours about the whole situation,” Portis told NBCSportsChicago.com “He told me when I come back to come 10 times harder. When people play this game and play the right way, they forget about the other stuff. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Scoring 38 tends to remake a narrative.

“Bobby just continues to improve,” Hoiberg said. “He’s a confident kid that goes out and plays with a ton of swagger and toughness. You need that, to go out and play with that type of effort. He’s tenacious on the glass. He’s getting the crowd into the game.”

When speaking of Portis, Hoiberg’s face went from flush to beaming, knowing how far Portis has come in his three years—being a player who wouldn’t take 3-pointers with confidence to now unleashing them whenever a defender’s feet shows the slightest hint of leaning back.

No hesitation.

“Regardless if I’m making shots, I try to leave it all out on the floor,” Portis said. “It felt good making shots, being able to help the team. I wanted the win tonight.”

Portis helped make up for the Bulls not getting their usual production from Dunn, who struggled guarding the bigger Simmons and Lauri Markkanen, who missed all five of his 3-pointers and made just one field goal in 32 minutes.

“You can put he and Lauri together,” Hoiberg said. “It gives you two guys that can stretch the floor and space it, two guys that can rebound, two that can put it on the floor. It’s exciting to think about when Kris gets his rhythm back.”

And now, Williamson’s words have proven to be prophetic for his pupil, because if the Bulls aren’t seeing Portis as a key part of their future, there’s about 25 other teams who’ll be lining up for his services this summer.

“I told him don’t even worry about it,” Williamson said. “Let your game speak for itself. People who really know you, know what type of person you are. You start producing people will forget about it and love you for what you do on the court.”

His game is talking, even if the Bulls’ loss was one they’d rather have taken in silence.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Projecting the Bulls’ future

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Projecting the Bulls’ future

In the latest edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski, Will Perdue and Kendall Gill recap the Bulls’ 116-115 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, look at the continued growth of Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn, and discuss if Bobby Portis is part of the Bulls’ long term future.

They also check in on LeBron James and the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers, discuss whether or not the Golden State Warriors can make another title run and the latest on the status of San Antonio Spurs guard Kawhi Leonard. The guys also discuss how Oklahoma guard Trae Young could look in a Bulls uniform if he’s available for them in the draft.

Listen to the full episode at this link (iOS users can go here) or in the embedded player below. Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.