LeBron and Durant are working out together. Again.

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They did it last year during the lockout — LeBron James and Kevin Durant worked out together. And both said it was the best training of their summer. They bonded. They pushed each other.

So, they are back at it again this summer, tweets Brian Windhorst at ESPN.

LeBron & Durant are back working out with each other in preparation for training camp. Last year they called it “hell week.”

This bothers some fans who want the old-school notion that rivals hated each other. Which had some legitimacy three or four decades ago when players didn’t get to know each other on the youth/AAU circuits as well and stars often stayed with teams for a career. But even when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson got to know each other, they became friends.

Now, it’s different. Players don’t carry rivalries over into the off-season the way fans do. Guys from different teams and parts of the country work out together all off-season long. And there’s nothing wrong with it — you as a fan don’t have to like the Heat, but if your guys are getting better working out with some of their players then it’s good for your team.

The bottom line is LeBron and Durant are the two guys on the planet capable of pushing each other on the court. If you are a fan of the Thunder and want Durant to grow his game, this is one way he can do it. It may be the best way he can do it. And he comes to camp in better shape and more ready.

So long as these friendships don’t carry over to games, it doesn’t matter. And if you think LeBron and Durant went easy on each other in the finals, I think you were on the wrong channel watching some baseball interleague games. Because they went at it hard.

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.