Josh Smith is back in Atlanta, thinking over his future

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While the spotlight has firmly been on Dwight Howard and his meetings with teams, Josh Smith was in Los Angeles too, talking to teams pursuing him.

Smith, arguably the second best free agent still on the market this summer, spoke with Detroit, who was rumored to want to make a big offer to him. There were talks with Houston, which is contemplating pairing him with Howard if they land him. Boston has been mentioned, even though that doesn’t make a ton of sense for them. Atlanta is expected to make an offer to keep him. There were others.

While the spotlight followed Dwight Howard to the Rocky Mountains as he was thinking about his options, Smith planned to spend the Fourth of July and the weekend at home thinking about his next play.

Smith has said he wants a max contract but apparently so far that has not been forthcoming. He averaged 17.5 points and 8.4 rebounds a game plus is a good defensive forward. There’s a lot to like. The biggest drawback is he doesn’t play to his strengths — he’s a beast inside five feet but has a penchant for jump shots he does not make that often.

Smith’s best play may be to wait until Howard makes his move (that could be Friday) then see how the market shifts for him. If Howard chooses Houston that may become an option. Otherwise, teams that miss out on Howard might make a run. Bottom line is as teams become a little more desperate his options may increase.

But it still may not get him the max deal he wants. Teams are more cautious with the new CBA. But either way Smith is home thinking it over.

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.