Lamar Odom to skip D-League game, play for Mavs Saturday

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That whole “Lamar Odom is going to play a game in the D-League to get his legs back before returning to the Mavericks” thing?

Forget about it.

He is coming straight to the Mavericks and will play Saturday when Dallas tries to stop its four-game losing streak when they take on the Jazz (who just beat the Heat Friday), reports Marc Stein at ESPNDallas.com.

He was just hours away from reporting to the D-League’s Texas Legends in nearby Frisco for the morning shootaround and was to play in their game tonight to build up stamina before returning to the Mavs for their road game Monday at Oklahoma City. Odom has not played in a game since Feb. 20.

But after Dallas lost for a fifth time in six games Friday night to the New Orleans Hornets, the plans changed because the Mavs need him now, a source said.

Getting him in the lineup is one thing, getting the focused and intense Lamar Odom is another. He has long been a guy who does not compartmentalize his personal and basketball lives well — what happens to him off the court impacts him on it more than most players. He was not happy when he found out he was going to be traded, he has had a sick father, and all season he has seemed burned out and disinterested.

Mavericks’ fans are finding out what Lakers, Heat and Clippers fans found out before them — just a worse version of it. Odom always had these kind of off games, he just punctuated them with great games and good quarters. This season there has been far less of the good sides, just the disinterested Odom who floats through games.

Which is why coach Rick Carlisle said his patience is wearing thin. He wants Odom to show up and play hard every night. Frankly he’s not going to get that, but if he can get the Odom who has a great game every third game it would help. Right now, the Mavericks need that versatile, matchup nightmare Odom.

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.