Dwight Howard plans to “clear my head” before deciding future

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Dwight Howard is a free agent and he has waited for this moment. He played out his contract, he has earned the right to choose where he wants to work.

He’s not going to rush this.

While the conventional wisdom is he will re-sign with the Lakers, he is going to look around. Eventually. But he said in his exit interview Tuesday he wouldn’t talk about it other than to say he’s not going to rush the process.

“I’m going to take my time, get away from the game, my phones and everything and just clear my head,” Howard said. “I’ll do what’s going to be best for myself, what’s going to make me happy. I can’t control who likes me, who dislikes me, but I have the right to be happy.”

Don’t we all?

Howard can say that because he’s not officially a free agent until July 1. At that point look for him to talk to Houston, Dallas and maybe Cleveland or other squads as well as the Lakers.

Both Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash said they want Howard to return. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak tried to send a message to the notoriously indecisive Howard — we want you here, but if you want us to build a good team around you then don’t drag this process out.

“I think he has complete faith in the organization. I think he does like living here. I think it’s all good, which leads me to why I’m optimistic,” Kupchak said…

“I think he understands that the sooner he makes a decision, the better it is for everybody. I don’t know if that means a week, a month or seven weeks.”

If there was one other thing to take away from Kupchack’s press conference, it’s that Mike D’Antoni will be back as coach next season. You’d like to think that would get Lakers fans to drop the Phil Jackson fantasy — he’s not coming — but that dream dies 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.