Luol Deng out for Bulls with sore left Achilles

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Luol Deng missed Saturday night’s game against the Pistons with a sore left Achilles, head coach Tom Thibodeau confirmed before tip-off.

Deng’s status is listed as day-to-day, and it’s not believed to be anything serious. After averaging 48.5 minutes per game over the last two contests thanks to logging 56 minutes in a triple-overtime loss to New Orleans, the fact that this is a soft place in the schedule for Chicago likely played a factor in Deng getting a much-needed night off.

From Aggrey Sam of CSN Chicago:

“I don’t know [when Deng will return], other than what Fred [Tedeschi, the Bulls’ head athletic trainer] tells me,” Thibodeau said. “He was unsure this morning. He had tightness, they wanted to work on him and he said it could be better in a couple days.”

The coach also said the All-Star small forward has been playing with the injury since the team’s lone win on the “Circus Trip,” ironically at Detroit, Nov. 27.

“Actually, he said he thinks he did it in the previous Detroit game and he just had the tightness, and it hasn’t gone away,” Thibodeau said. “He had some swelling and he’s trying to get that down.”

Deng is once again playing heavy minutes for the Bulls, a combination of Thibodeau’s style to ride his best guys, as well as the injuries the team has faced making it a necessity to do so.

Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $40,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Saturday night’s games. It’s $10 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Saturday. Here’s the FanDuel link.

As always, Deng has contributed when called upon, and has posted averages of 19.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 38.6 minutes per game. He’s also scored at least 20 points in each of his team’s last six contests.

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.