Central Notes: Scola, Bucks, Butler

LeBron James still hasn’t hit his 30th birthday, which comes next month, but there’s evidence to suggest that he’s already past his prime, as Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher examines. The four-time MVP hasn’t been able to carry the Cavs to the sort of performances they were expected to have so far this season, but he’s not the only one struggling for Cleveland, which is just 6-7. Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Pacers power forward Luis Scola still thinks of what might have been if the Spurs, who drafted him in 2002, hadn’t traded his rights to the Rockets in 2007 before he joined the NBA, as Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News details. Playing with San Antonio would have meant pairing with Tim Duncan, whom Scola calls “my biggest hero,” and fellow Argentine Manu Ginobili. All three are set to hit free agency this summer, but there’s retirement talk surrounding Duncan and Ginobili, and Scola spoke of the chance to play with them as though it wouldn’t come again.
  • The Bucks are facing an 2017 deadline to break ground on a new arena, lest the league seize control of the team, but commissioner Adam Silver downplayed any urgency surrounding the situation as he visited Milwaukee on Tuesday. Don Walker of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has the details. “I didn’t come here to announce deadlines,” Silver said. “We want to work in partnership with the city and the state to get a new arena built. We’re always going to be reasonable.” Silver, who advocated for the repeal of a “jock tax” in Tennessee, expressed measured support for such an arena funding source in Wisconsin, where a jock tax is under consideration, as Walker notes.
  • Jimmy Butler rejects the idea that he’s a marquee player, but Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is the latest to gush about the swingman poised for restricted free agency this summer, observes Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com“He’s been incredible,” Thibodeau said. “He’s a star, and he does it on both ends of the floor. He’s just an amazing player. We’ve had him play the point, we’ve had him play the 2, the 3, and [Tuesday] he played the 4. And he hasn’t had any opportunity to practice the 4. So he just got out there, he’s smart, he’s tough, he does whatever the team needs, and he found a way to help lead us into coming back and having a shot at the end.”

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