Michael Beasley may be heading to the bench in Phoenix

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The Suns are currently riding a five-game losing steak, after coming close but ultimately falling short in a 97-94 loss to the Mavericks on Thursday. And fair or not, the blame for a lot of the team’s struggles, especially offensively, is being placed squarely on the shoulders of Michael Beasley.

Beasley was benched for the fourth quarter of Thursday’s contest, after scoring just nine points on 3-of-12 shooting in 21 minutes of action. It isn’t the first time Beasley hasn’t played when the game matters most, and those fourth quarter benchings have been occurring more frequently, with the man the Suns planned to feature in their offense this season simply not getting the job done on anywhere close to a consistent basis.

Phoenix already abandoned its starting lineup once this young season, trading out two players who on paper were deserving for two who actually would produce. Jared Dudley was replaced by Shannon brown, and Luis Scola was replaced by Markieff Morris. Now, it might be Beasley’s turn to head to the bench until he can figure things out.

From Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic:

Forward Michael Beasley was the epitome of the team’s struggles. He shot 3-for-12 and during one stretch missed seven straight shots. Afterward, Gentry said it’s “more than likely” time to move Beasley out of the starting rotation and the switch “could possibly” be as soon as Saturday’s tilt in Los Angeles against the Clippers.

“I don’t know what it is,” Beasley said. “I come in every game optimistic about my play and my shots. It’s just not good right now, and it’s not what anybody’s doing. It’s all me. I’m getting extra shots. I’m getting extra shots on top of extra shots. I’ve just got to be patient. Let the game come to me. Just sort of ride it out.”

The Suns troubles aren’t anywhere close to all Beasley’s fault. Goran Dragic has been up and down running the point, and while the team has tried to feature Beasley and give him the green light as much as possible, a lot of his shot attempts aren’t coming in rhythm, or after he’s been set up cleanly for an open look.

Beasley may find consistency with the second unit; his minutes aren’t likely to drop, and Gentry has always maintained that he’ll go with whoever is getting it done on a given night when crunch time rolls around.

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.