Central Notes: Stephenson, Josh Smith, Bulls

The Central Division hasn’t been the hub of many roster moves so far this season, aside from A.J. Price‘s Cavs-to-Pacers-to-Cavs odyssey and Will Cherry‘s brief tenure in Cleveland. That figures to change before too long, since today is the first day that most offseason signees are eligible for inclusion in trades. The Cavs apparently have their eyes on a pair of Grizzlies, while the Pacers are reportedly one of multiple teams in talks to trade for Lance Stephenson, though Indiana doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to make such a move. There’s more on Stephenson amid the latest items trickling out of the Central Division:

  • The chance the Pacers have to bring back their old core for another run in 2015/16 and erase the mistakes they and Stephenson made in free agency this summer should lead Indiana to trade for its former shooting guard, opines Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star. Buckner thinks, after having spoken with league sources, that Stephenson would welcome a Pacers reunion.
  • Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press doesn’t foresee a Josh Smith trade happening soon, figuring that teams would want the Pistons to attach a first-rounder to Smith’s contract, worth $40.5MM between this season and its expiration after 2016/17 (Twitter links). Kings management tried to trade for Smith this summer over the objections of soon-to-be former coach Michael Malone, but the Pistons didn’t like what Sacramento was offering.
  • The Bulls‘ decision to deal Luol Deng turned out to be a prudent one, as Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com writes.  In the short term, the cap flexibility that Chicago freed up in the Deng deal took them out of luxury tax territory.  From a broader perspective, the deal (plus the amnestying of Carlos Boozer‘s contract) gave the Bulls enough wiggle room to land Pau Gasol.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

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