Rockets draftee Motiejunas sees lockout, will stay in Europe

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This was one of the reasons you saw a lot of teams drafting international players in this year’s draft.

Rockets first round pick Donatas Motiejunas has gotten a look at the NBA lockout situation and decided to stay and develop for another year in Italy, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Motiejunas expects to accept an offer from Benetton Treviso to resume his career there for the duration of the NBA lockout and perhaps through next season….

“I still have a contract with Benetton,” said Motiejunas, the 20th player taken in the NBA draft. “They told me if I want to leave in the middle of the season when the team that took me, Houston, wants me, they would let me go. That will be no problem.

“That’s why I’m happy, and a little bit sad. The situation is very tough right now. I don’t really want to go away from the team. I’m not happy about that. That was one of the greatest things that happened in my life, that this team picked me.”

A lot of European clubs are expected to offer similar contracts to guys drafted this season, and the guys will take them. Better to play and develop in a quality league than to sit around and play Halo 3 while eating Doritos. Don’t be shocked if Motiejunas and others actually are asked to teams to spend the entire season in Europe and then come over if it is a shortened NBA season.

Motiejunas is a 7’0” center out of Lithuania who is right out of central casting for stereotypical European big man — good outside shot with three point range but not going to play much in the paint for you. He could develop into a valuable stretch four in the NBA. But for now he will do that developing in Italy.

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.