Lakers, Magic not talking Dwight Howard trade; Kobe is talking to him

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Only one thing — a potential Dwight Howard trade to the Lakers — is going to get talked about more than how lost the Lakers offense looks in the next 24 hours. With Los Angeles headed into Orlando for a Friday showdown, let’s do a trade update:

There isn’t one. The two sides are not talking. But Howard and Kobe Bryant are talking. So reports the Los Angeles Times.

The Lakers and Orlando haven’t had trade talks in “a while,” according to a person familiar with the teams’ thinking, putting a damper on proponents of a Bynum-for-Howard deal…. The trade deadline isn’t until March 15, but for now there’s no momentum on a deal between the Lakers and Magic.

As we have been saying for some time now, Orlando is still looking for ways to keep Howard in house, and their 10-3 start has fueled that hope. It’s not likely to work — unless you think this Ryan Anderson led surge can take them deep into the playoffs — but the Magic are not going to move Howard before the All-Star Game (Feb. 26) and maybe not after.

But while their teams may not be talking, Kobe and Howard are, the Times adds.

Kobe Bryant has had at least one in-depth phone conversation with Howard recently, even discussing how Howard might fit in with the Lakers’ scheme.

One person with knowledge of the conversation said Howard came away feeling as if he wouldn’t be the Lakers’ top option, for obvious reasons. It’s Bryant’s team.

Any Lakers package for Howard would be centered around Andrew Bynum, with other parts and picks likely. The Lakers will not give up Pau Gasol and Bynum.

Still that may be better than the Magic’s other options. The Nets offer centers around Brook Lopez and picks, but Howard is reportedly soured on that as the Nets are not a playoff team this season (and even a Howard trade would not be in time to pull them into the top eight in the East). The Dallas Mavericks are on Howard’s list but they don’t have good trade assets either, that likely would be an off-season move if it were to happen. The Clippers popped up as a rumor lately but a package based around D’Andre Jordan and Mo Williams is less attractive than the Nets offer.

Maybe another suitor will jump in with a “rent-a-Howard” offer the Magic like (a team where Howard may not sign an extension that is willing to take the risk). Or, maybe Orlando just keeps him.

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.