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Central Notes: Pacers, Blake, Lue

Solomon Hill thinks Indiana’s decision against picking up its team option on him for next season drove him to become a better player, observes Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star. The combo forward who shot a sizzling 11 for 19 from 3-point range in the team’s seven-game first-round series didn’t play nearly as well in summer league this past July, and so he understands why the Pacers made the call they did this past fall, even though he led the team in minutes played during the 2014/15 season. Buckner notes. “I kinda felt like my 82 [games] last year was kinda thrown out and they just [said]: ‘This is what he’s done,’” Hill said. The Pacers will face a challenge to re-sign him, since any new contract they give him can’t have a salary for next season that exceeds $2,306,019, the value of the option they declined.

See more from Indiana amid news from the Central Division.

  • Pacers coach Frank Vogel never gave Jordan Hill an explanation for why he dropped out of the rotation in the playoffs, Hill said, and the 28-year-old is hoping that front offices focus on his production in the regular season, when he averaged 8.8 points and an efficient 6.2 rebounds in 20.7 minutes per game, Buckner relays in the same piece. Hill is set for free agency again after signing a one-year contract last summer.
  • The Pistons are open to re-signing Steve Blake when he hits free agency in July, but coach/executive Stan Van Gundy said in his season-ending press conference that improving at backup point guard will be a priority, writes Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. The 36-year-old would like to keep playing for the Pistons, but he indicated in statements he made after Detroit’s playoff ouster last month that he wants to retire in a year. “I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I loved my experience here,” Blake said. “It was great playing for [Van Gundy], and I really love playing with these guys. If they wanted me back, I’d be thrilled, but you never know in this league. I’d love to play one more year. That’s my goal, but someone has to want me.
  • Coach Tyronn Lue leads the Cavaliers with a calm demeanor and didn’t panic or call timeout when Atlanta came back from an 18-point deficit before succumbing to Cleveland in Game 1 of their series Monday, traits he credits to Knicks team president Phil Jackson, observes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Jackson coached Lue during his playing career.

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