The Bulls and Cavaliers, who many assumed were on their way to a clash in the Eastern Conference Finals, would meet in the first round as the respective No. 4 and No. 5 seeds if the playoffs began today. No. 4 signifies a much different fate for the Pistons, who are in line for the fourth-best chance at the No. 1 overall pick, as our Reverse Standings show. Detroit’s win over Cleveland on Sunday was just one more oddity among a season filled with them for Central Division teams. There’s more on the fallout from that amid the latest from around the division:
- LeBron James refused to answer a reporter’s question about whether the team’s losses were a learning experience for coach David Blatt, and there are “whispers” that some Cavs players have issues with the coach, according to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio. It’s not entirely surprising for some players on any roster to have tensions with a coach, Amico cautions. Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group plants the blame for the Cavs’ slip-ups of late on the team as whole, specifically naming James, Blatt and Kevin Love. Fellow Northeast Ohio Media Group scribe Joe Vardon zeroes in on James for the team’s trouble, citing his apparent lack of full effort and failure to embrace Blatt’s coaching.
- Jonas Jerebko, a free agent at season’s end, is so far the most direct beneficiary of the Pistons‘ decision to waive Josh Smith, seizing the opportunity for more playing time with strong performances, MLive’s David Mayo observes.
- Bulls training camp invitee Ben Hansbrough has signed with Spain’s Laboral Kuxta Vitoria (aka Saski Baskonia), the team announced (translation via Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia). David Sardinero of Kia En Zona reported the move before it happened (translation via Carchia). The point guard had been playing with the D-League affiliate of the Pistons before that team rescinded his rights to accommodate his move overseas.