Central Notes: Pacers, Josh Smith, Rasheed

The Pacers are no longer a title contender, Grantland’s Zach Lowe concludes. The trade for Evan Turner hasn’t worked out, Lowe believes, pointing to a postgame tiff between Paul George and Roy Hibbert three weeks ago as indicative of the team’s struggles. The second half of the season hasn’t been kind to Indiana, but the Pacers are still just percentage points behind the Heat for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Josh Smith insists to Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News that he’s not the only one to blame for the Pistons‘ disappointing season. Smith has drawn plenty of criticism since signing his four-year, $54MM contract in the offseason, and the Pistons reportedly tried to trade him at the deadline.
  • Pistons assistant coach Rasheed Wallace‘s ties to the organization give him a “good chance” to remain with the team, but the fate of the rest of the staff is likely up to whomever ends up as head coach next season, as MLive’s David Mayo writes. Mayo, answering reader questions, also suggests everyone except Andre Drummond could be on the trade block this summer.
  • Mike Dunleavy‘s name emerged in trade rumors before the deadline, but he’s pleased with his decision to sign with the Bulls this past summer, as he tells Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  • We rounded up more on the Bulls earlier today, and passed along news that the team is likely to target Pau Gasol this summer.

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