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After skipping Charlotte, Jahlil Okafor reunites with 76ers in Boston vs. Celtics

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Jahlil Okafor wasn’t on the team plane when the Philadelphia 76ers left for Monday’s game against the Charlotte Hornets, prompting widespread speculation that he was soon to be traded. Okafor has remained a Sixer over the past two days, and now he will be back with his teammates in Boston.

Multiple outlets covering the Sixers reported on Tuesday that Okafor, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, will be present for his team’s matchup against the Celtics.

What this means for his future in Philadelphia is still uncertain. The 76ers have a logjam in the frontcourt with Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, and Okafor. That’s not even mentioning Ben Simmons, who will apparently play a large role as a member of the backcourt but is sure to see time at the 3 and 4 spots as well.

Okafor is still a commodity and there’s tons of time left before the Feb. 23 trade deadline to get a deal done. Rumor last time out was that Okafor was shaking hands and hugging folks goodbye at Philadelphia’s arena, and that both the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers were in talks with the Sixers about the young big man.

Those talks would contextually appear to have fizzled, especially if Okafor suits and plays for the 76ers again.

Give it time. The NBA trade deadline is notoriously weird, and you can’t count anything out up until the exact moment it’s over for something big to go down. The Sixers still have to live with their frontcourt issues for the time being.

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.