Central Notes: Butler, Knight, Gray

Few would have imagined that the Bucks, who had the worst record in the NBA last year, would have a better mark nearly a month into this season than LeBron James and the Cavs do, but that’s the case, with Milwaukee at 7-7, a half-game clear of 6-7 Cleveland. Still, it won’t be difficult for the Cavs to climb back into contention for a high playoff seed, since they’re only two games back of the Central Division-leading Bulls in the loss column. Here’s the latest from the Central:

  • Jimmy Butler tells Ben Golliver of SI.com that it was difficult to pass on an extension with the Bulls last month but that he turned down Chicago’s offer because he believed in his ability to improve his offensive game after a step back last season. Butler has proven wise so far, averaging 20.8 points per game on 49.7% shooting this season compared to 13.1 PPG and 39.7% shooting last year.
  • Brandon Knight has had three coaches in his four NBA seasons, but his relationship with new Bucks coach Jason Kidd has been positive so far, and a desire for stability is one reason why Knight wants to re-sign with the Bucks this summer, as Sean Deveney of The Sporting News examines.
  • Aaron Gray won’t play this season because of a heart ailment, and he acknowledges that there’s a chance that he’ll never be healthy enough to return, as he says to MLive’s David Mayo. Still, he’s not giving up hope, and a couple of weeks shy of his 30th birthday, Gray is serving as an unofficial assistant coach for the Pistons, who waived him last month in part because of his health, as Mayo details. “They brought me here for a service,” Gray said. “Even though I’ve been waived, the type of guy I am, I’m still getting paid for two years. I just wouldn’t feel right not contributing as much as I possibly could.”
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