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Gailey focused on Bills' finale, not job status

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Gailey focused on Bills' finale, not job status

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Bills coach Chan Gailey is not discussing job security, either his or that of starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick for another week.

He's focused on preparing Buffalo for its season finale against the New York Jets this weekend rather than the uncertain offseason that lies ahead.

``I'm not into that right now,'' Gailey said Monday. ``I'm into let's beat the Jets and finish this thing the way it needs to be finished.''

At 5-10, Buffalo's season is essentially finished except for a game against the Jets (6-9) on Sunday.

Coming off a 24-10 loss at Miami, the Bills have dropped seven of nine, are guaranteed their fourth consecutive year with 10 or more losses, and will miss the playoffs for a 13th straight season. Gailey's record in Buffalo has dropped to 15-32 over a three-year stretch in which he's yet to win more than six games.

Gailey deflected questions regarding his job security, and declined to say whether he's received any assurances from the front office or Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson.

``I wouldn't tell you if they'd given me an indication or not,'' said Gailey, who has at least one year left on his contract.

And yet he's sticking with Fitzpatrick as his starter for at least one more week because, as Gailey put it: ``He gives us the best chance to win.''

Gailey, however, hedged as to whether Fitzpatrick's job is safe going into next season.

``We evaluate all that at the end of the season,'' he said. ``I don't see anything that would change my mind there right now. Something may change my mind as time goes on. But right now, I don't see anything that changes my mind in that.''

That's a bit of a switch from what Gailey had said late last month when discussing Fitzpatrick's status.

``As we continue to get better, I think he is going to be the guy,'' Gailey had said then.

The trouble is neither Fitzpatrick nor the Bills have shown many signs of progress.

After scoring 20 offensive touchdowns in their first seven games, the Bills have managed just 13 (five rushing and eight passing) in their past eight. Over that same stretch, Fitzpatrick has more turnovers (four lost fumbles and seven interceptions) than touchdowns passing (eight).

Injuries have also contributed to the drop in production.

Slot receiver David Nelson has been out since hurting his knee in the season opener. No. 2 receiver Donald Jones missed two of three games before being placed on injured reserve last week. And starting tight end Scott Chandler is out after tearing a ligament in his left knee against Miami.

Gailey said Chandler will require surgery, and the injury could have him miss the start of next season.

Questions about Fitzpatrick have been raised since general manager Buddy Nix said on several occasions this season that he's interested in drafting a quarterback next year.

Fitzpatrick's contract could also be an issue. In March, he's due to make a $3 million bonus, which could be a steep price to pay for a team that could be in the market for a new starter.

Though Bills players were given the day off, Fitzpatrick acknowledged this has been a difficult season for him.

``I'd be lying if I said it didn't wear on me a little bit,'' Fitzpatrick said on his weekly show on Buffalo's WGR-Radio. ``We haven't met (the expectations). And I haven't met them. And so it's been disappointing. But that stuff doesn't affect the way that I play on Sunday.''

Another issue has been the Bills defense, which hasn't played to its high-priced potential.

They're the NFL's eighth team to have allowed 45 or more points four times in one season. They've allowed 150 or more yards rushing seven times after giving up 182 to Miami. And the 426 points allowed is already the third-most given up in team history, and 28 short of matching the record set in 1984.

Gailey accepted the blame for the team's overall struggles this season, while insisting he sees signs of progress.

``The job is production and winning, and we haven't gotten there,'' Gailey said. ``We're getting closer, but we're not over the hump.''

NOTES: Gailey said FB Dorin Dickerson (right ankle), who was hurt on Sunday, is expected to play after tests came back negative. ... S Da'Norris Searcy has been ruled out after he hurt his groin against Miami.

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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.

MORE 2018 NBA DRAFT COVERAGE:

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