Marco Belinelli says he passed up money to sign with the San Antonio Spurs

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Marco Belinelli, explaining how the San Antonio Spurs pitched him during free agency last summer, recalled three factors. In the order Belinelli listed them:

1. Chance to win a championship

2. Money

3. Support to improve his game

Belinelli is certainly getting No. 1. The Spurs are 32-9, best in the Western Conference.

No. 3 has happened, too. Shooting 69-for-138 (50 percent) on 3-pointers, Belinelli having – by far – the best season of his career.

No. 2? That’s a little more complicated. Belinelli is doing fine, making $2,750,000 this season and $2,873,750 next. If he keeps playing like this, he’s in line for a big raise. But if he joined a different team than the Spurs, perhaps he could have gotten a higher salary this year.

Dan McCarney of Spurs Nation:

Belinelli, meanwhile, said he had more lucrative offers than the two-year, $5.6-million deal he would eventually sign with the Spurs. But the opportunity to play for one of the best teams in the NBA, alongside long-time idol Manu Ginobili, was too good to pass up.

“I know money is important,” he said. “But I’m a young guy and I want to improve my game. Money will come. I just want to win.”

Passing up money in free agency during his prime to play for a winner? That sounds an awful lot like another player many fans hate.

The scope is different, but there’s really no difference, in this regard, between Belinelli and LeBron James. We should all understand that each used free agency, a legitimate tool for players, to put themselves in the best-possible position based on what they value.

Because of those decisions, a Spurs-Heat NBA Finals rematch is quite possible. For Belinelli and LeBron more money will be there later – if they want it. In the meantime, they’re just two guys who put winning ahead of dollar signs.

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.