Wizards

After all the drama, Chip Kelly is leaving Oregon

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After all the drama, Chip Kelly is leaving Oregon

Oregon faces a future without Chip Kelly after all.

The team's enigmatic coach of four years surprised the Ducks with an early morning phone call Wednesday to say he was leaving to become head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, just a little more than a week after he told Oregon he was staying.

Oregon responded by assuming the ``Next Man In'' philosophy that Kelly had always preached at Oregon for replacing key players.

Kelly had barely boarded a flight for Philadelphia when the Ducks swung the search for his replacement into gear. A job posting for ``Head Football Coach'' appeared within hours on the university's website.

``We're here moving forward. We're not going to worry about what happened. He made a decision that was best for him and we wish him well,'' athletic director Rob Mullens said. ``He's been great for Oregon football and we're moving on.''

Mullens said Wednesday that he had already been contacted by search firms, although he had not heard from any individual candidates outside the program.

He set no timeline for replacing Kelly, except to say the Ducks will ``move as fast as we can'' - much like the team's warp-speed offense under Kelly.

``We had already done a lot of groundwork, we had already started the process, knowing that Chip was going to be talking to the Eagles, Bills and Browns. We had geared up our process. We had obviously shut it down, but it's easy to click right back on.''

A person close to the team who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the coaching search is ongoing told The Associated Press early Wednesday that offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich was still considered the ``frontrunner.'' Under Oregon state law, the school must also interview at least one qualified minority candidate for the job.

Mullens acknowledged there were internal candidates, but there was no ``leader in the clubhouse.''

``The expectation for this program has shifted,'' Mullens said. ``We want to win Pac-12 championships. We want to win BCS bowls.''

Kelly set the bar high.

Kelly was 46-7 in four years as head coach at Oregon. The Ducks have been to four straight BCS bowl games - including a bid for the national championship against Auburn in 2011 - and have won three Pac-12 championships.

He originally came to the Ducks in 2007 as offensive coordinator under head coach Mike Bellotti. Kelly was selected to be Bellotti's successor before Bellotti left the job.

Oregon finished last season 12-1. The team was ranked No. 1 and appeared headed for another shot at the national championship until a 17-14 overtime loss to Stanford on Nov. 17. The Ducks wound up No. 2 in the final AP poll after beating Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl early this month.

The Ducks will likely move forward with hiring a coach quickly, because signing day for football recruits is on Feb. 6.

Shortly after the move was announced, several potential recruits went to Twitter to express their surprise, including Nico Falah, an offensive tackle from Bellflower, Calif., who wrote: ``Chip Kelly left?!?! He was at my house 2 days ago.''

Following Oregon's Fiesta Bowl victory, Kelly flirted with three NFL teams: Philadelphia, Cleveland and Buffalo. But after a wild weekend of interviews amid rumors and speculation, Kelly told the Ducks he was staying put.

But just nine days later, Kelly called Mullens to tell him he'd changed his mind.

KEZI-TV of Eugene caught Kelly at the Eugene airport as he prepared to leave for Philadelphia.

``It took so long to make it just because the people here are special. The challenge obviously is exciting for me, but it's an exciting time (and) it's a sad time - saying goodbye to people you love and respect, and I wanted to make sure I talked to my players and did it in the right fashion and talked to our staff,'' Kelly told the television station. ``I feel like I did.''

Oregon's new coach will undoubtedly face possible fallout from an NCAA investigation into the school's use of recruiting services.

The inquiry is the result of reports that surfaced in 2011 concerning payments Oregon made to two such services, including a $25,000 check sent to Willie Lyles and Houston-based Complete Scouting Services in 2010. Lyles had a connection with a player who committed to Oregon.

Oregon had requested a summary disposition in the case and presented a report to the NCAA infractions committee outlining violations the school believed occurred and appropriate sanctions. But last month Yahoo Sports reported that Oregon is headed toward a hearing with the committee because the two sides couldn't reach an agreement.

The NCAA does not comment on ongoing investigations. The hearing could come as early as this spring.

But on the field, the Ducks appear sound. The team will return two of its most dynamic players next season: redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota, and speedy sophomore running back De'Anthony Thomas, who ran for a 94-yard touchdown on the opening kickoff of the Fiesta Bowl.

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With another low shot total for Otto Porter, Coach Brooks says Porter needs to do more to help himself

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With another low shot total for Otto Porter, Coach Brooks says Porter needs to do more to help himself

After a night in which Otto Porter Jr. only took nine total shots, just two of them in the second half, many questions from Wizards reporters in the postgame locker room centered on how the team can get him more involved. This came on the heels of a seven-shot, zero-three outing for Porter against the Heat on Thursday and a preseason in which getting him more attempts was a persistent storyline.

It sounds like some are tired of talking about it. Point guard John Wall, who is part of the equation as the team's main distributor and highest usage player, put it in relatively strong terms.

"This will be the last time I talk about Otto Porter getting threes," Wall said. 

Wall went on to explain how it's a combination of defenses taking away the three-point line for Porter and the flow of the game creating better shots for others. It's a common explanation Wall has given on the matter in recent weeks, and it's understandable.

Head coach Scott Brooks has admitted his own role in Porter not getting enough shots, how more plays could be called for the small forward. But after the loss to Toronto, one in which Porter played just south of 25 minutes, he was a bit more blunt in his assessment.

Brooks believes Porter can be doing a lot more to help himself.

"Gotta get yourself open," Brooks said. 

When asked about Porter playing fewer minutes than usual, Brooks went on about the need for guys to play hard. That warranted a follow-up, as it seemed Brooks was questioning Porter's hustle.

Brooks explained what he meant by that in detail.

"You've got to move. You've got to set yourself up. You've got to run the floor. We got a fast point guard. I don’t know if you guys know that but he’s fast and if our wings aren’t running, what good is it when you’re going to have a one-man break? What makes teams play with pace is guys running." 

"I love Otto. You guys know that. But he has to play faster. He has to. Physically, he’s not going to jump over anybody and dunk over everybody, but he has to get himself into position. He’s a big-time player for us. He’s a glue guy. He makes winning basketball plays. He gets in plays but he has to do that consistently for us. He can’t do it for a half. He has to do it for the entire game. The guy can do it. I’ve seen it. He didn’t do it tonight but he’s going to bounce back. He didn’t do it the first two games but he’s going to bounce back and do it. And we need it.”

Porter, 25, was the Wizards' most efficient player last season, but averaged only 11.5 shots per game. With one of the best three-point shots in the NBA, the numbers suggest he should have a larger role.

The Wizards insist they are trying to get him more involved. In their eyes, it's time for Porter to do his part.

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Bradley Beal honored to pass Gilbert Arenas on all-time three-pointer list

Bradley Beal honored to pass Gilbert Arenas on all-time three-pointer list

Saturday night produced a link between some of the best players in recent Wizards/Bullets franchise history.

With a fourth-quarter three, Bradley Beal surpassed Gilbert Arenas on the franchise list for career triples

Beal, an All-Star last season, has already established himself as one of the best to play for Washington in decades. Afterwards, he paid homage to the man whose record he broke.

"I was always a fan of Gil. He was Agent Zero," Beal told NBC Sports Washington. 

"I loved everything about him; his confidence, his swagger on the floor. Granted, everyone talks about his off-the-court stuff, but what he did on the court is just untouchable. It's untouchable. He's a legend, for sure. Part of me wishes I could have played with him and just learned from him in a lot of ways. That's an accomplishment for me. I'm happy I was able to surpass it because he is a legend, in my opinion anyway."

Arenas' tenure with the Wizards was epic for its highs and lows. At his peak, he was arguably the most dangerous scorer in the NBA. But his downfall both on the court and off has left him as a notorious figure in the game's recent history.

John Wall, who has assisted on many of Beal's three-pointers, played with Arenas back in the 2010-11 season as a rookie. He is happy for his current teammate, who now has a distinct place in the team's history books.

"He's probably the best shooter I've ever played with in my eyes, so it's great to see him accomplish that," Wall said. "He's going to keep setting the bar higher and higher."

Beal passed Arenas in just the second game of his seventh NBA season. He's only 25 years old, so odds are he will keep adding to his franchise record for many years to come.

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