Kobe calls under-23 Olympic basketball idea “stupid”

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When this Olympics ends there is going to be a discussion among a bunch of rich lawyers in suits about what is best for basketball players. What could go wrong with that?

David Stern, pushed by NBA owners, wants to see the Olympic basketball tournament become an under-23 tournament, as is done with men’s soccer. That conversation will get pushed harder after the London games. USA Basketball President Jerry Colangelo said he had talked with Stern about it and said that it would be a very political decision involving FIBA and countries around the world.

The players pretty much hate the idea.

Kobe Bryant summed it up directly, speaking to Reuters (via SLAM) as Team USA landed in England for a game against Great Brittan Thursday (which will be another rout).

“It’s a stupid idea, stupid,” Bryant, 33, told reporters on Tuesday ahead of Team USA’s Olympic friendly against Britain on Thursday. “It should be a (player’s) choice…

“The Olympics is really about putting the best athletes out there to compete against the best. That’s what it’s about, put the best out there,” said Bryant. “From a basketball standpoint, (an age limit) would lessen the Olympics, absolutely.”

Soccer fans, feel free to jump into the club vs. country debate you’ve had for decades. Owners of teams have huge investments in players, investments that are risking injury and wearing down their body during the offseason and they want it to stop. The players just want to play and compete at the highest levels. The shoe companies like the idea of their biggest stars on this global stage. FIBA wants its World Cup to be like the soccer World Cup and not a secondary tournament to the Olympics.

So, lots of old lawyers in suits arguing about what basketball players should do in the offseason. That’s always how the best decisions get made.

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.