Report: Marc Gasol could be back with Grizzlies in month or less

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The sooner the better for Memphis.

The trend right now among NBA teams is to say a guy is out “indefinitely” with an injury and not give a timetable. (Unless you’re the Knicks, then every injury is day-to-day, even when it’s not.) You can thank Derrick Rose for that, nobody wants to give the impression a key player will be back sooner than he will be ready.

The other way to get around that is to give an extended timetable then have said player beat it. Which brings us to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Marc Gasol was reportedly going to be out 6-10 weeks with a sprained MCL, but the Associated Press said in a recent story it is really expected to be 3-4 weeks.

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As noted, the sooner the better for Memphis — in a deep Western Conference every extra loss now is one that could knock a team a seed or three down the playoff ladder (there were four games separating the No. 1 and No. 5 seed last season in the West)  and that will make a run through the playoffs that much more difficult.

Kosta Kufos has played solidly in his absence, but he is no Gasol, particularly on the defensive end where Gasol’s smart reads and rotations anchor what has been one of the most stout defenses in the league.

The good news for Memphis is that Gasol’s game is not based on his explosive athleticism — he should be able to be his old self pretty soon upon return. It’s going to take a few games for the shooting touch and passing feel to return, but he’s not going to have to wait for his ability to blow by guys with his crossover to come back for him to be effective.

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.