Capitals

Bucks coach Scott Skiles out, Boylan to fill in

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Bucks coach Scott Skiles out, Boylan to fill in

MILWAUKEE (AP) Once again, an NBA team has parted ways with head coach Scott Skiles. Once again, veteran assistant Jim Boylan is being asked to pick up the pieces.

One day after Milwaukee and Skiles agreed it was time for a change, the Bucks said Tuesday that Boylan will coach the team for the rest of the season. General manager John Hammond downplayed the notion that Skiles had lost control of the locker room or otherwise felt friction with management.

``Scott and I did not have a frosty relationship. Scott did not hate this team,'' said Hammond, who noted that more than half the season remains. ``We're not a team in dire straits ... we're expecting good things to happen.''

Boylan met with reporters before Tuesday night's home game against Phoenix.

``We'll do what we've been doing as far as being professional, getting ourselves ready for every game and getting out there and competing,'' Boylan said. ``That's my job right now, to get us back on the right track, move us in the right direction and I think the guys we have on the team right now are quality people and committed to that task. That'll be our ultimate goal.''

If this change sounds familiar, it should: Skiles was fired as head coach in Chicago on Christmas Eve in 2007 after the Bulls started 9-16. Boylan, an assistant in Chicago, took over and went 24-32. He was fired at the end of the season.

In an interview Tuesday with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Skiles disputed the notion that he didn't like his team.

``There's always the normal coach-player friction that goes on,'' Skiles said in the Journal Sentinel interview. ``Guys at this level are great players. This is, as NBA teams go, this is a good group of guys.''

Hammond said he and Skiles had been having a number of conversations recently about the future of the team. He said there was no single factor in Skiles' departure, and that no other assistant coaches were leaving.

``It was a mutual decision. We both agreed to make this decision,'' he said.

Skiles had a 162-182 record in four-plus seasons with Milwaukee, with one playoff appearance - a first-round loss to Atlanta in seven games during the 2009-10 season. He was a hard-nosed, defensive-minded coach who sometimes seemed to have difficulty meshing with a roster built around volume shooters Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis.

Jennings said he heard about the change in a phone call Monday night from Skiles and not from anyone within the organization.

``I think that's why I was a little bit frustrated at first,'' he said. ``Just the fact that I had to hear it from my own coach and not the team. If I'm supposed to be their franchise player, why don't I hear the news first?''

Jennings said he was shocked but not upset about the change. He said he spoke with Skiles for about 20 minutes.

``We had our ups and downs, we had great times here,'' he said. ``I have nothing but respect for him because as a rookie he did put the ball in my hands first.''

Luc Mbah a Moute said he was shocked and had a great experience playing for Skiles, but coaching changes simply were part of the business of the NBA.

``I kind of had an idea of hearing that the team wasn't really happy with the way everything was going, and not just this year, you know the last couple of years with Skiles,'' he said. ``This year we were kind of like started a good start and then went through a patch where we didn't play so great.''

Boylan said the initial change he would make was to insert forward Ersan Ilyasova into the starting lineup for Ekpe Udoh.

Ilyasova re-signed with the Bucks during the summer, but saw his minutes decrease to 22 per game this year after playing 27 in the 2011-12 season. He said he was looking forward to playing for Boylan.

``For me, it's not a big deal you know, if you start or not, my concern has been about the minutes,'' Ilyasova said. ``When you come from the season I had last year, I didn't expect to play less than last year.''

Skiles' agent, Keith Glass, said it was hard to pinpoint when Skiles began thinking of stepping aside, but all parties agreed the timing was right.

``There was no blowup. There was no animosity going on. I think everybody made the right decision for their own respective sides,'' he said.

Two other coaches, the Lakers' Mike Brown and Brooklyn's Avery Johnson, are also out of work in this young season. Brown was fired after five games and Johnson late last month, about three weeks after being named Eastern Conference coach of the month.

The 57-year-old Boylan has been the lead assistant for the Bucks the past four seasons. In a 20-year NBA coaching career, he has also been an assistant in Cleveland, Vancouver, Phoenix, Atlanta and Chicago.

Boylan said he was too worried about keeping the job when he succeeded Skiles in Chicago.

``Last time, from a personal standpoint, I was too worried about trying to keep the job and it kind of restricted me as time went on,'' he said. ``I made the determination when this happened last night, that I was going to try and enjoy this and just do what I like to do which is coach these guys, being around these guys and the coaching staff and the organization and just enjoy it.

``Have a good time with it and get the guys to play hard and compete and let the chips fall where they may at the end,'' he said.

Milwaukee, losers of four straight when the coaching change was announced, started out a surprising 6-2, only to lose seven of its next nine. The Bucks followed that with a four-game winning streak, the kind of wild swings that didn't sit well with a coach who values consistency - both in play and preparation.

``Considering like a week ago we were 16-12 and beat Miami, you probably wouldn't have guessed this would have happened a week later,'' forward Mike Dunleavy said.

Skiles did help coax a breakout season out of Larry Sanders, who has emerged as a rebounding and shot-blocking monster over the last few weeks. The demanding coach pushed Sanders to be more consistent, and the lanky forward/center has responded. He grabbed 20 rebounds against Boston on Dec. 21 to start a string of double-digit rebound nights in five of his last eight games and leads the league with 3.07 blocks per game.

Skiles' focus on defense was always going to be tested by a roster revolving around Jennings and Ellis, two flashy scorers who prefer to get up and down the court and lure opposing teams into shootouts.

Jennings and Ellis have been giving plenty of effort, but the Bucks were in the middle of the pack in points allowed per game (15th) and field goal percentage defense (18th), below Skiles' lofty expectations.

Still, the Bucks are only a few games behind Indiana in the Central Division, despite injuries to Beno Udrih and top defender Mbah a Moute, and in seventh place in the Eastern Conference playoff chase.

Skiles' departure could be the first in a series of big shake-ups for the Bucks. Hammond is in the final year of his deal, while Jennings and Ellis can both become restricted free agents after this season.

Hammond said he and team owner Herb Kohl are in discussions about an extension, but he declined to elaborate on the progress of their conversations.

As for Skiles, he is now 443-433 as an NBA head coach in 12-plus seasons, which also includes stints with Chicago and Phoenix. He started this season with a host of new players, though the biggest trade during his tenure was the deal that sent former No. 1 draft pick Andrew Bogut to Golden State for Ellis.

``I never heard Scott say a negative thing to me about that trade or anything else,'' Glass said. ``Everybody has their own opinions on the way things are done, but Scott was always on board with - in terms of support - whatever move was made. ... And I think he liked Monta. I never heard him say a word about that at all in a negative sense.''

Glass said it was too early to say whether Skiles was looking to stay in coaching.

``Today is not the day for that ... but I'm sure we will discuss that in the next month or so,'' he said. ``But he's not burning right now.''

AP Sports Writers Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis and Andrew Seligman in Chicago and AP Freelancer DiGiovanni in Milwaukee contributed to this report.

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Dinesh Ramde can be reached at dramde(at)ap.org.

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Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Sabres will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Sabres game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals (34-20-7) take on the Sabres (18-32-11) Saturday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Capital One Arena.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME ON?

The Capitals-Sabres game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Sabres
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Sabres game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Michal Kempny - Brooks Orpik

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals-Panthers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

CAPITALS-SABRES OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 24, 18 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The five highest-paid Redskins in 2018

Originally published 1/12/18

This is how the five highest-paid Redskins per their 2018 salary cap numbers stack up as of now. The list could change, of course during free agency and if a particular quarterback returns. Cap numbers via Over the Cap.

CB Josh Norman, $17 million—The Redskins do have a window which would allow them to move on from Norman. His $13.5 million salary for this year doesn’t become guaranteed until the fifth day of the league year so it would be “only” a $9 million cap charge to move on from Norman, who turned 30 in December. Don’t look for that to happen but the possibility is there.

OT Trent Williams, $13.86 million—He is one of the best left tackles in the business. Those of you out there who have advocated moving him to left guard should look at this cap number, which is way out of line for what a team can afford to pay a guard. At his pay, he needs to be playing on the edge.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan, $12.45 million—He has delivered double-digit sacks in each of the two seasons that his contract extension has been in effect. That’s good value in a league that values the ability to get to the quarterback.

TE Jordan Reed, $10.14 million—The Redskins knew that he might have a year like last year when he played in only six games when they agreed to Reed’s five-year, $50 million extension. They can live with one such season. If he has another one in 2018 they may rethink things.

G Brandon Scherff, $6.75 million—The fact that a rookie contract is No. 5 on this list is a good sign that, as of now, the Redskins’ cap is not top heavy like it was last year. The top three cap hits from Norman, Williams, and Kirk Cousins totaled $59 million, which was about 35 percent of the cap. This year the total cap numbers of the top three come to $43.3 million, 24.3 percent of the estimated $178 million salary cap.

Next five: OT Morgan Moses ($5.4 million), TE Vernon Davis ($5.33 million), DL Stacy McGee ($4.8 million), DL Terrell McClain ($4.75 million), S D.J. Swearinger ($4.33 million)

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 5
—NFL Draft (4/26) 61
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 197