Central Links: LeBron, Deng, Bulls, Scola

It’s not easy to build a six-and-a-half game lead in less than a month, but that’s what the Pacers have done in the Central Division, where they’re the only team above .500. The Bulls are in second place, and the hole they’re in would have been somewhat of a challenge to overcome even if Derrick Rose were coming back this season. It’s probably impossible now that he’s done for the year, though Chicago at least has a strong chance of making the playoffs in the watered-down Eastern Conference. Here’s more on Indiana and the Central Division also-rans:

  • Anderson Varejao would welcome former Cavaliers teammate LeBron James if the four-time MVP decides to re-sign with Cleveland this summer, a prospect Varejao believes could become reality, as Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio observes. The Brazilian big man thinks James will likely return to the Cavs at some point, even if it’s not for next season.
  • Other reports suggest Luol Deng isn’t going anywhere soon, but executives from around the league who spoke to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune expect trade talks involving the Bulls small forward to pick up.
  • Johnson also notes in his piece that the Bulls chose to sign Mike Dunleavy over Marco Belinelli because they believed Dunleavy was a better fit with Rose. That points to the challenge the team faces opposed to last year, when they went into the season knowing Rose would be out. Despite his latest injury, Bulls GM Gar Forman says he’d be OK with Rose playing in the basketball World Cup this coming summer, according to Johnson.
  • Pacers coach Frank Vogel is impressed with offseason acquisition Luis Scola, and didn’t expect the 33-year-old would defend as well as he has so far, writes Michael Pointer of the Indianapolis Star.
  • The Bucks had the most turnover of any NBA team this summer, but they didn’t expect to have the worst record in the Eastern Conference a month into the season, as Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel examines.
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