Mavs looking for more defense from O.J. Mayo

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With Dirk Nowitzki set to miss the next six weeks, the Dallas Mavericks will lean more heavily on O.J. Mayo to be an offensive centerpiece. He’ll have to score more and be more efficient when doing so to help keep the Mavs afloat on that side of the ball.

But offense isn’t the only place he’ll need to help his new team. Mayo will need to step up on the defensive side of the ball as well. Just ask his head coach, Rick Carlisle. He’ll be happy to let you know that scoring simply won’t be enough from the former Grizzly. And, to his credit, Mayo looks to be getting the message:

“I’ve got to get better,” Mayo said. “You can point fingers at any individual, but if you notice any good teams that get after it defensively, it’s five guys all pulling on a string. I rate myself as good as my team is.”

Mayo is saying the right things today but will need to show more on the court. He has all requisite tools to be a strong defender — good size, length, and athleticism — but hasn’t yet put it together to really make a difference on that end of the floor. In fact, over the course of his career, he’s been a net negative on D from a team perspective while posting individual defensive numbers that were not up to standard (Synergy ranks him as the 370th best defender overall in terms of points allowed per play).

Rick Carlisle knows that to be a true contender, a team has to play top level defense. When his Mavs won the championship in the 2010-11 season, Dirk and the offense may have gotten the headlines, but the team ranked 8th in defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions) by running creative schemes and getting the stops they needed.

Carlisle built a defense around Tyson Chandler’s paint presence, Shawn Marion’s inside/outside versatility, and Jason Kidd pestering perimeter threats. Today, only Marion remains from that group and Mayo will have to step in to help corral the bevy of strong offensive wings littered across the league.

If he’s up to the task, he’ll be a much more complete and valuable player to a Mavs team that could surprise some people after an off-season makeover. If he’s not, Carlisle may find himself closing games with Mayo on the bench because he’s not helping to get the stops the team needs.

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.