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Colts VP Telesco hired as Chargers' GM

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Colts VP Telesco hired as Chargers' GM

SAN DIEGO (AP) San Diego Chargers President Dean Spanos didn't hesitate to reach outside the organization to hire Tom Telesco from the Indianapolis Colts to replace fired general manager A.J. Smith.

Spanos said Wednesday that he was struck by Telesco's vision for building the Chargers, who behind Smith and coach Norv Turner took a tumble from four straight AFC West titles to missing the playoffs for three straight seasons.

``There's going to be a change in culture, there's going to be a change in process. It was needed here. It was time,'' Spanos said Wednesday. ``That's the most important thing to me.''

The 40-year-old Telesco, who was chosen over a field of candidates that included Jimmy Raye, the Chargers' director of player personnel, becomes the youngest GM in team history. He was given a four-year contract.

Telesco spent the past 15 seasons with the Colts, most recently as vice president of football operations. He had a hand in the moves that helped the Colts go from 2-14 in 2011 to 11-5 and the playoffs this year, including taking quarterback Andrew Luck with the first pick in April's draft.

At the end of the 2012 season, the Colts' roster featured 36 new players from the end of the previous year.

Telesco certainly will have some work to do with the Chargers. After Turner was fired, he said he believed the Chargers were more than a year away from returning to the playoffs.

``There's a great history of this Charger organization and our goal here is to create a culture and a foundation for consistent winning and we're going to get there,'' Telesco said.

``I talked to Dean Spanos and raved about Tommy,'' Colts owner Jim Irsay said.

Irsay said the Colts interviewed Telesco last year for the GM job that went to Ryan Grigson, ``and he was right there with Ryan.''

Before beginning the task of rebuilding the Chargers, Telesco will lead the search for a new coach to replace Turner, who was fired along with Smith on Dec. 31 after the Chargers finished 7-9.

Hiring Telesco could give an inside edge to Bruce Arians, the Colts' offensive coordinator who went 9-3 as interim head coach while Chuck Pagano underwent treatment for leukemia.

Arians was released from the hospital Wednesday. An illness caused him to miss Sunday's playoff loss at Baltimore.

Telesco said he hasn't spoken with any candidates, including Arians.

``In regards to Bruce Arians, we just got finished playing a playoff game on Sunday and we were all Colts all the way through. So, I've had no discussions with people on anything of the future. It was all Colts-based,'' the new GM said.

The Colts have given at least three teams permission to speak with Arians: the Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles.

The 60-year-old Arians, a prostate cancer survivor, has said he'd love a shot at being a head coach. As a member of Pittsburgh's staff, he won two Super Bowl rings and made another Super Bowl appearance. He has mentored Luck as well as Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger.

Telesco said he has no parameters on a candidate's experience.

However, the Chargers could lean toward an offensive-minded coach in an attempt to help straighten out Philip Rivers, who committed 47 turnovers the last two seasons combined, including 22 in 2012. San Diego is expected to keep defensive coordinator John Pagano, Chuck's brother.

Spanos said request letters have been sent to other teams regarding coaching candidates, including teams in the playoffs.

The Chargers' wish list could include offensive coordinators Mike McCoy of Denver, Tom Clements of Green Bay, Rick Dennison of Houston, Greg Roman of San Francisco or Jay Gruden of Cincinnati.

``We're looking for a teacher, No. 1, a coach who can communicate ... and we're looking for a leader. The head coach is basically the CEO of the players and the coaching staff. It's a big operation. It doesn't matter to me what area he comes from, whether it's offense or defense experience.''

Telesco, who played wide receiver at John Carroll University in Ohio, worked as a summer intern at the Buffalo Bills' training camps from 1991-94. After graduating, he got his first NFL job as a scouting assistant with the Carolina Panthers. He spent three years with the Panthers, including 1997 as an area scout.

He joined the Colts in 1998 as an area scout, a job he held until 2000. He was a pro scout from 2001-03, director of pro scouting from 2004-05 and director of player personnel from 2006-11.

The Colts won the Super Bowl following the 2006 season and reached the NFL's title game again following the 2009 season, losing to New Orleans.

``I was lucky enough to work for an organization where we had a lot of success,'' Telesco said. ``We had a standard that we worked with that I know works because we saw it work. It worked with the Carolina Panthers; it worked with the Buffalo Bills. So we have a plan in place that I know works. There's been a lot of tweaks to that plan over 20 years, of course. I've started at the very bottom and up until last year, worked up to the No. 2 person, so I've seen all the different angles of an organization, from bottom up.''

Indianapolis was eliminated from the playoffs by the Chargers following the 2007 and `08 seasons.

``I know from the outside, when I was with the Colts, we had a lot of problems with San Diego,'' Telesco said. ``So there was always a very high opinion of this team.''

While Smith let the roster slip, particularly on the offensive line, Telesco said it's ``certainly nice'' that the Chargers have an established quarterback in Rivers.

The new GM said the Chargers will be a draft-driven organization that will use free agents to supplement the roster.

Spanos and Telesco said they'd both like to have Raye return to the Chargers. Raye didn't return a call seeking comment.

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AP Sports Writer Mike Marot in Indianapolis contributed to this report.

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Though not a big man, first round pick Troy Brown fills several needs for Wizards

Though not a big man, first round pick Troy Brown fills several needs for Wizards

The Wizards' selection of Troy Brown of the University of Oregon with their first round pick has been met with a strong reaction among fans, many of whom argue he doesn't play a position of need, that it was a luxury pick when other areas could have been addressed, most notably in their frontcourt. Big man Robert Williams of Texas A&M, for example, was still on the board. 

The Wizards, though, did address needs by picking Brown. And really, they arguably filled more pressing needs in the short-term than those at power forward and center.

Though the Wizards clearly need some help at big man in the long-term, as both of their starting bigs are on expiring deals, they need help immediately at both shooting guard and small forward. Brown, though he is only 18 years old and offers no guarantees to contribute right away, can play both of those positions.

Shooting guard is where he can help the most. The Wizards have one backup shooting guard in Jodie Meeks and he is due to miss the first 19 games of the 2018-19 season while serving a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

Even when Meeks was available this past season, he only helped so much. He shot just 39.9 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from three. Head coach Scott Brooks often chose to rely more on starter Bradley Beal than go to Meeks as his replacement. As a result, Beal logged the fourth-most minutes of any player in the NBA.

More depth at shooting guard will help relieve Beal of some of that workload. That would be great for keeping him fresh throughout the season and help him be at his best when they need him most in the playoffs.

The Wizards also have some urgency at small forward. It is their strongest position in terms of one-two on the depth chart, but they have no logical third option. That was magnified in the playoffs once Otto Porter got injured. They were left with Kelly Oubre, Jr. and had to trot out Tomas Satoransky, who has limited experience at the position.

Brown can play both shooting guard and small forward, giving them much needed depth. If he can play well enough to earn a rotation spot, the emergency situations the Wizards encountered last season could be avoided in 2018-19.

The Wizards still need to find long-term solutions at power forward and center, but they were going to need to find answers at shooting guard and small forward as well. Both Meeks and Oubre have one year left on their deals. Brown helps solidify the long-term outlook at wing.

Now, there's no denying the Wizards already had considerable talent at both shooting guard and small forward with Beal, Porter and Oubre. That begs the question of how much Brown can offer particularly in the first year of his career. But the Wizards would like to play more positionless basketball and to do that requires depth at wing.

The Boston Celtics have helped make positionless basketball famous and their roster shows that the one player-type you can't have enough of is similar to Brown. Boston has Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Morris. All are around 6-foot-7 or 6-foot-8 and offer versatility on both ends of the floor.

The Wizards also now have four players of that size and with positional versatility in Brown, Porter, Oubre and Satoransky. They can roll out different combinations of those guys and possibly have an advantage on defense with the ability to switch seamlessly on screens.

In the age of positionless basketball, players of Brown's ilk have become major assets especially for teams that have many of them. There is such a thing as having too many point guards or centers because they can't coexist on the floor. Versatile wings, in most scenarios, can play together in numbers.

It's different but in a way similar to certain positions in other sports. In baseball, you can have too many catchers but you can't have too many talented pitchers and utility players. In football, you can have too many running backs or tight ends, but you can't have too many defensive linemen. 

Brown gives them options from a roster perspective in the long-term. Oubre has one year left on his contract and if he continues his trejectory with a strong 2018-19 season, he could price himself out of Washington. Brown could move up the depth chart as his replacement one year from now. The Wizards also now have the option to consider trades at the position given their depth.

The problem, one could argue, with drafting Brown over a Williams-type is that it limits their options at center in particular. Drafting Williams would have made it easier to trade Marcin Gortat, for instance, because they would have had depth to deal from. Now, it's more difficult to trade Gortat, whom they have shopped on and off for months, without a plan to replace him. Finding a Gortat substitute in free agency with the limited resource they have would not be easy.

But big man wasn't their only need and in Brown the Wizards may have found a solution at other areas where they clearly needed help.

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Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon will take time, much like Tomas Satoransky did

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Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon will take time, much like Tomas Satoransky did

The first round of the NBA Draft played out expectedly for what the Wizards had planned for the night. In Troy Brown, they clearly got the guy they wanted all along, seeing as there were many interesting prospects they passed on to choose him.

The second round was a bit more chaotic. Team president Ernie Grunfeld said there were a few players picked just ahead of them at No. 44 that they had their eyes on. They contemplated trading up, but no perfect deals were presented.

So, they decided to think long-term, like really long-term. In choosing Ukrainian point guard Issuf Sanon, the Wizards understand it may be years before he plays in the NBA.

"We hope to have him developed in a few years," Grunfeld said.

Sanon, just 18, plays for Olimpija Ljubljana in Slovenia. He may stay in Europe into his 20s before he comes to the United States.

The Wizards have utilized the draft-and-stash model with other players. Their 2015 second round pick, Aaron White, has been playing in Europe for the past three seasons.

Sometimes those players never convey and contribute for the Wizards. But sometimes they do and Grunfeld pointed to a player already on their roster as a model to consider.

"We drafted Tomas [Satoransky] at an earlier age, he went overseas [and] he played at the highest level and it got him ready for the NBA," Grunfeld said.

The difference between now and then is that the Wizards have a G-League franchise starting this fall, the Capital City Go-Go. Because of that, it seemed more likely going into the draft that the Wizards would use the second round pick on a guy who can play there right away. 

Grunfeld, however, opted for roster flexibility. By keeping Sanon in Europe, the Wizards can have another open roster spot. They could either fill that spot, or leave spots on the end of their roster open as they did for much of last season.

"We want to preserve a roster spot, so just because you draft someone in your second round, if you sign him, he still has a roster spot even if you let him play for the GoGo," Grunfeld said.

Sanon may have a bright future. He is a 6-foot-4 point guard with impressive athleticism who doesn't turn 19 until October. He said he models his game after Russell Westbrook, as a guard who can score the ball. More will be known about him once he plays for their summer league team in July.

The Wizards passed on several interesting prospects to pick Sanon. Still on the board were Keita Bates-Diop of Ohio State, Hamidou Diallo of Kentucky and Svi Mykhailiuk of Kansas, three players they brought in for pre-draft workouts. But instead, they went with a long-term investment, hoping they found the next Satoransky.

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