Kobe denies report of poor recruiting call with Howard

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We passed along the report over the weekend, one that cropped up in a couple places, that a conversation where Kobe Bryant tried to recruit Dwight Howard to Los Angeles turned off the center. That Kobe told Howard that the offensive options would be first Kobe, then Pau Gasol, then Howard. Which struck me as something Kobe is too savvy to say in recruiting a guy, but that was the rumor.

Peter Vecsey of the New York Post asked Kobe about it. And as you knew would happen, Kobe shot it down.

“omg! I’m not getting mixed up in this kiddy drama spit, bro. too old for that spit,” Bryant responded via email.

“How do you think I feel at my age having to chase down this stuff,” I answered. “I understand your position. But if it’s untrue, any of it, and allowed to circulate throughout the league, which already is happening, I would think you’d want to say it’s not.”

“It’s not true,” Kobe responded.

First off, you know Kobe didn’t use the word “spit.” Rhymes with “spit” but that’s not the word of choice.

Second, of course Kobe said this. Who knows what was actually said in a Kobe/Howard conversation, but what is Kobe going to say now? “Yes, I tried to scare him off.” Of course not.

Third, know that every rumor you hear about Howard is someone trying to spin the situation the direction they want it to go. This rumor had New Jersey as where Howard really wants to go, even though other rumors have said that the Nets had fallen because the team sucks this season and Howard doesn’t want to miss the playoffs (and even if he went there a lot of building is left to do). Everyone is trying to spin the story (and Howard) to where they want him to land.

The truth of the Dwight Howard situation is more about practicality and feasibility. The Magic may eventually come to their senses and decide to move him, but when they do it will be to the team that gives them the best offer. It will be about who takes on Hedo Turkoglu’s deal, too. If Orlando likes Andrew Bynum and assorted goods better than Brook Lopez and slightly better assorted goods, he’s going to Los Angeles. And Howard is going to suddenly sing the praises of wherever he gets sent.

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.