Central Notes: George, Bucks, Thibodeau

Pacers coach Frank Vogel insists that Paul George is not ready to play, Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star tweets. ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst reported on Friday that George could return within a week but Vogel told Buckner that’s not the case. “There’s a lot of layers to it,” Vogel said. “He’s not ready. He hasn’t reached our level of what we feel he’s ready to play.” In a separate tweet from Buckner, Vogel added that while George is cleared to practice, he’s not cleared to play, though that refuted what president of basketball operations Larry Bird indicated to ESPN.com’s Mike Mazzeo.

In other news around the Central Division:

  • Trading Brandon Knight to the Suns has led to the Bucks’ recent struggles, according to Steve Aschburner of NBA.com. The deadline deal had an emotional impact on the team and hindered the team’s offense because replacement Michael Carter-Williams isn’t as proficient as Knight, in Aschburner’s assessment. Coach Jason Kidd did not view Knight as his long-term solution at the point and Knight’s status as a restricted free agent after the season contributed to the decision to deal him, Aschburner adds.
  • Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg could be a candidate for the Bulls head coaching job if they part ways with Tom Thibodeau after the season, Chad Ford of ESPN.com speculates. Thibodeau reportedly has a strained relationship with the team’s management and Ford considers Hoiberg the hottest college coach on the market. Hoiberg played in the league, worked in an NBA front office, and has a more laid-back demeanor than Thibodeau, Ford points out.
  • The Cavs turned their season around by making trades for Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith and Timofey Mozgov, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer opines. Cleveland started out 19-20 and GM David Griffin fixed its problems by shaking up the roster, which dramatically improved the team’s defense, Pluto adds.

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