Central Notes: Love, Mozgov, Bulls, Bucks

No one involved in the process believes Kevin Love will pick up his $16.744MM player option to remain with the Cavaliers as he’s said he plans to do, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Love nonetheless spoke of a strong camaraderie amongst the Cavs to Ananth Pandian of CBSSports.com, countering a narrative that he’s not getting along with his teammates, an idea that Love seemed to stoke when he said his relationship with LeBron James and other Cavs could be better. Rumors surrounding the No. 2 free agent on the Hoops Rumors Free Agent Power Rankings have intensified, and Michael Rand of the Star Tribune wonders if Cleveland, like Minnesota, will be in the power forward’s past soon. Here’s more from around the Central Division:

  • The Timofey Mozgov trade has worked out splendidly for Mozgov, whose offensive numbers are up, and for the Cavs, who’ve taken off since the deal, as Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio examines. Cleveland has a $4.95MM team option on Mozgov for next season. “When we made the trade, everything that he brought is what we needed and wanted,” James said. “He’s going to be huge for our team. Very, very skilled offensively and understands defensively. He’s just a smart basketball player and it’s great playing with him.
  • Nikola Mirotic and Jimmy Butler, a pair of late-first-round picks from 2011, are playing key roles for the Bulls, and trading for the rights to Mirotic took particular effort, as K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune details. “We were bidding against somebody,” Bulls GM Gar Forman said. “Significant money was being laid out. And that’s when [owner Jerry Reinsdorf] really stepped up and included a good chunk of money to make that happen.”
  • No team surged higher from last year’s ESPN Insider Front Office Rankings to this year’s than the Bucks, who jumped from 29th to 15th. Chad Ford of ESPN.com, in another Insider-only piece, credits the work of assistant GM David Morway, who joined the team in the summer of 2013, for having been instrumental in the rise.
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