Pitino wants Nets job. Or not.

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NBA_pitino_250.jpgUpdate 1:11 pm It is becoming clear through multiple reports that Pitino — through intermediaries — went straight to incoming owner Mikhail Prokhorov, bypassing the current Nets front office entirely. The pitch is he is a big name coach, has ties to New York and can help the team win and make a splash when it moves to Brooklyn. If Prokhorov wants a differing opinion on Pitino, he can stop any New Yorker on the street and ask.

Update 10:43 am Rick Pitino is now saying “Who? Me? Can’t be.” He told ESPN college hoops writer Pat Forde he has no interest in the job. That he never wants to coach in the NBA again. To which anybody who has followed Pitino’s opportunistic career says, “yea, right.” But this is why you have intermediaries do the outreach, so you can deny, deny, deny. Anyway, there you have the official line.

9:44 am And you thought nobody wanted to coach the New Jersey Nets. That things had gotten so bad they would just pluck a new coach out of a hat.

Never fear — Rick Pitino wants the job.

Sources close to Pitino said that the Louisville coach has reached out to Nets brass in recent days, making himself a candidate for the job now held by GM and interim coach Kiki Vandeweghe, and due to open after their woeful season is completed in April.

According to sources, Pitino had intermediaries recently contact Nets president Rod Thorn on his behalf. Thorn himself is in the final year of a contract, and is looking to get a new deal from incoming owner Mikhail Prokhorov.

Another report has Pitino’s people reaching out to Prokhorov’s people directly. Ballsy.

The best part of this story — the Nets don’t want him. His reputation as, um, shady from his days coaching the Celtics precedes him. Pitino did take the Knicks to the playoffs both years he coached the team, but how he left and what he did in Boston damaged his NBA reputation.

The Nets have a short list of candidates, topped by current analyst (and another former Knicks coach) Jeff Van Gundy. Apparently Vandeweghe thinks the pace of play in the NBA is too fast. That or he can’t stand Van Gundy and Mark Jackson paired together, either.

Jazz boost international bona fides with new minor-league coach

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Martin Schiller has been named coach of the Salt Lake City Stars, the Utah Jazz’s NBA G League affiliate.

Schiller previously served as an assistant coach of MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in Germany and replaces Dean Cooper. He was an assistant coach for the Artland Dragons from 2010-15.

Schiller has also been an assistant coach on the German National Team since 2015, where he worked with Jazz assistant coach Alex Jensen.

Schiller hails from Vienna, Austria, and Stars vice president of basketball operations Bart Taylor lauded him for his international experience and player development background.

The Jazz organization is known to have close relationships with the international basketball community. The Jazz currently have eight international players.

Kyrie Irving will wear No. 11 with Celtics

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BOSTON (AP) — Newly acquired guard Kyrie Irving will wear No. 11 in Boston because the Celtics already have retired the numbers he wore in college and with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Irving wore No. 11 at two New Jersey high schools before switching to No. 1 at Duke. He wore No. 2 with the Cavaliers for the first six years of his NBA career.

The Celtics retired No. 1 for founder and original owner Walter Brown. They retired No. 2 for former coach and general manager Red Auerbach.

In all, the Celtics have retired 21 numbers, with Paul Pierce’s No. 34 next in line for the TD Garden rafters.

 

PBT Extra: Cavaliers’ new GM aces first big test with Kyrie Irving trade

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Everyone in the NBA — heck, nearly everyone living in the Western hemisphere — knew Kyrie Irving wanted out of Cleveland. That should kill the Cavaliers’ leverage and make it hard to get enough quality back.

New GM Koby Altman — the guy thrust into the job when David Griffin was shown the door — pulled it off brilliantly.

That’s what I talk about in this new PBT Extra. With Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, the Cavaliers remain the team to beat in the East this season. The Brooklyn Nets pick gives them flexibility going forward, whatever LeBron James decides to do next season.

First time at the plate in the big leagues and Altman crushed it to straight away center field.

Cavaliers-Celtics deal first offseason trade involving players who just met in NBA Finals or conference finals

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The Cavaliers and Celtics played in last year’s Eastern Conference finals. The teams were widely expected to meet there again.

Yet, Cleveland and Boston just completed a blockbuster trade – Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick.

That seemed odd.

In fact, it’s unprecedented.

That is an incredible fact, one which speaks to LeBron Jamescachet. The Cavs are emphasizing this season, LeBron’s last before a player option, by loading up with veterans Thomas and Crowder. With LeBron still reigning in Cleveland, the Celtics are delaying their peak by acquiring the younger Irving.

Adding to the intrigue: the Cavs and Celtics are still favored to meet in this year’s conference finals. At minimum, they’ll face off in a(n even more) highly anticipated opening-night matchup.