Breaking news: Mike D'Antoni doesn't totally hate defense

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The consumption of sports is so widespread that broadcasts often create inbred opinion; two different people watch the same broadcast, inevitably assume some of the ideas and views expressed by broadcasters as their own, and mistake the other person’s confirmation of that view as legitimate when in fact they’re merely confirming on the basis of familiarity.

Or maybe the internet is just filled with message board fodder that’s somehow recycled as legitimate opinion.

Either way, somewhere along the line, Mike D’Antoni was tagged with a label and has since been stigmatized. It’s not enough to praise him for his teams’ relentlessness on the break, which strategically runs counter to what most teams in the league try to do while tapping into the players’ psychological desire to produce, produce, produce. Instead, because his teams have been far more productive offensively than defensively, we get the reputation that D’Antoni “doesn’t care about defense.” We get the idea that “his teams don’t even practice defense.” We hear rumors that “LIKE OHMYGOD, Mikey totally, totally hates defense’s guts.”

Erroneous! Erroneous! Erroneous on all counts!

D’Antoni’s system doesn’t put a premium on good defense (or good defensive players), and doesn’t necessarily construct a framework that allows players to succeed on D. He’ not that kind of coach, and that’s fine. But to say that he doesn’t care about it? To say he ignores defense? To say that he doesn’t teach defense in practice? That’s just irresponsible. Wouldn’t you agree, Jared Jeffries (via Howard Beck of the NYT Off the Dribble blog)?

“I think that Mike’s a realist,” Jeffries said. “Defending, like anything else in the NBA, is a talent level. And you can’t have people that are not great defenders and expect them to be great defenders. Just like you can’t have people that aren’t great scorers and expect them to be great scorers. He put me out there to be a defender and he puts guys out there to be scorers. He does focus on defense, but if you don’t have defensive players, then you’re not going to be a great defensive team.” He added, “It’s not like he tells the guys, ‘Don’t go out there and guard anybody, just try to score.’ That’s not the case at all.”

Steve Nash. Amar’e Stoudemire. Boris Diaw. David Lee. Nate Robinson. Al Harrington. So many of the heavy-hitters on D’Antoni’s teams have been poor to average defenders. He also had Shawn Marion, Joe Johnson, and the aforementioned Jeffries, but asking a single (or even a couple) perimeter defenders to run a defense without help is a bit much. One bad defending apple can spoil the whole bunch, but an apple that’s good at defense can’t very well save the barrel now can he? 

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.