Central Division Roundup: The Wait is Over, the NBA is Back
NBA Media Day is over, training camp is officially underway, and preseason games start this week. Yes, the NBA season is upon us at long-last. The slow news through the dog days of August are over, which means I get to go back to writing weekly articles. We have quite a bit to catch up on, so let us get started with the team most of you reading probably care about most.
Stop me if you have heard this before: Reggie Jackson is still injured. It was reported by Keith Langlois of nba.com that Jackson’s ankle injury from last season is still lingering and persisted all summer. It was bad enough, in fact, that he was unable to even get on a basketball court. For the entire summer. Problematic? Yeah, most likely. However, the 28-year-old point guard says he feels like he can make cuts again and his ankle is “night and day” better than it was last season. It is unclear if Jackson will miss time to start the season or if he will have restrictions heading into training camp, but this whole situation is something to keep an eye on.
In the latest catastrophic trade request, Jimmy Butler wants out of Minnesota. And the Pistons reportedly are interested. As are the 28 other teams in the league. Whether this is a real news item or not is yet to be seen, but regardless, Detroit should make a play for the talented wing says our own Aaron Johnson.
Moving down South along the rust belt lands us in Cleveland, the city that lost the most this offseason. A lot has happened with the Cavaliers, and most of it is shockingly positive. Rodney Hood accepted his $3.4 million qualifying offer and will remain with the team that traded for him last season. The Cavs also officially announced the signing of David Nwaba, whose contract details were clouded in mystery for too long. As it turns out, Nwaba will make $1.5 million next season in Cleveland.
Team owner Dan Gilbert also reportedly privately met with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor. The team is also reportedly interested in Jimmy Butler. Coincidence? Yeah, most likely. Every team in the NBA is doing their due-diligence on Butler. Acquiring the guard/forward certainly falls in line with Gilbert’s plan to try and make the playoffs this season. However, it is very unlikely.
Sharpshooter Kyle Korver is still with the team, but he almost wasn’t. Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com says that Korver contemplated retiring this offseason after a traumatic season that saw the death of his brother. Factor in the media circus of the Cavs and a generally not fun locker room, and it is no wonder the 37-year-old almost hung up the laces.
Pacers guard C.J. Wilcox will miss the upcoming season with a torn Achilles’ tendon, the team officially announced along with the training camp roster. That leaves an open spot on the roster, which as of now has not been filled. Wilcox was a long shot to provide actual minutes off the bench, but it still leaves a hole on the roster for what it’s worth.
Forwards Domatas Sabonis and T.J. Leaf both had their rookie options picked up by the team, according to Scott Agnes of The Athletic. Sabonis was actually pretty serviceable last season and stole the backup big minutes from Al Jefferson. Leaf, a former first-round pick, played 53 games and has some room for improvement.
Head coach Nate McMillan had his contract extension last month officially announced.
If you have not jumped aboard the Lauri Markkanen hype-train yet there is plenty of space, but its dwindling fast after this scathing Tweet following the news in Minnesota.
Center Omer Asik, who was acquired last season from the Pelicans in a salary-dump trade with Nikola Mirotic, is out indefinitely with inflammatory arthritis. It has been a tough few years for Asik health-wise.
Chicago is reportedly looking at signing Bobby Portis to his rookie-scale extension, according to K.C. Johnson. General Manager Gar Forman says that Portis is part of the Bulls’ young core, so signing him makes sense. Whether anyone else believes that he is part of the future of this team is yet to be seen.
Some house-cleaning: John Paxson had his title changed from Director of Basketball Operations to Director of Pro Personnel, according to the team. Not quite sure if that is a lateral move or what, but the infamous pairing of “GarPax” that Bulls fans have loathed is still intact.
The Bucks officially announced several signings including Shabazz Muhammad, Christian Wood, and point guard Tim Frazier. Along with journeyman center Tyler Zeller, all of these players will likely be fighting for the 15th and final roster spot on the team.
Milwaukee also withdrew their qualifying offer on guard Xavier Munford according to the RealGM transactions log, allowing him to sign with any other team.
On a side note about Muhammad, he actually turned down a 4-year $40 million deal with the Wolves prior to the 16’-17’ season. And now he is competing to fill the end of a bench. Life comes at you quickly.
On the Gery Weolfel podcast, the long-time journalist says that new head coach Mike Budenholzer and the Bucks organization were expecting Jabari Parker to return to the team. Nobody was expecting Chicago to offer Parker the $20 million per season, and Weolfel suggests that Budenholzer is having “buyer’s remorse” over taking the job. I find this hard to believe considering the trove of treasures Milwaukee has, but we can go with it.
(Featured image via the Associated Press)