Reason for hope? Wednesday labor talks to expand Friday

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Be careful about getting your hopes too high — we are all still Charlie Brown trying to kick the football and David Stern is still Lucy.

That said, there seem to be some positive signs after two consecutive days of talks. The biggest of those is that after a day off Thursday for the Jewish holiday, a larger contingent of owners (around 15) and name players are expected to attend Friday’s meeting, according to multiple reports. Meetings that could continue into the weekend.

In the last couple days, the owners backed off their demand for a hard salary cap but put other conditions on the table. It’s made for interesting talks.

What does all that mean? It means there has been enough progress in negotiations that the two sides want larger groups — the owners and players that will eventually have to vote up or down on a deal — to hear what is being discussed.

But don’t think that means a deal is right around the corner. David Stern said after the meeting that there was work to do then added — trying to scare the players — that if there was not progress this week there would be “enormous consequences.”

Plus there is this tweet from CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger.

Union attorney Jeffrey Kessler: “We are not on the verge of a deal.”

He’s a lawyer, Stern’s a lawyer, that’s what they’re supposed to say. But there is truth there, too.

If I were a betting man, I’d put money on some big name players to show up in New York Friday. Some NBA players (and agents) have wanted the star players of the league to take on bigger roles in the talks, this would be a prime stage for that to happen.

More details of Thursday’s meeting likely will leak out (check back to PBT for the details) but at least the fact they are meeting and will meet again soon are all good signs. Not a deal, but progress.

Through it all, one New York driver summed the feelings of fans up well. Via the twitter of Alan Hahn of Newsday:

Angry fan stops car on busy NYC street in front of Billy Hunter and pounds his door: “We want basketball!” he growled. “Get this done!”

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.