Central Notes: George, Kaun, Van Gundy

Paul George should come back to play if he’s healthy enough to do so before season’s end, but not so he can help the Pacers win more games down the stretch, argues Steve Aschburner of NBA.com. Instead, the focus should be on helping George shake off the rust so he can be ready to go full-speed next season, even if there’s concern that inserting him into the lineup would disrupt the rhythm of this year’s team, Aschburner believes. Here’s more from around the Central Division, which has a strong chance to send the Pacers and three other teams to the playoffs this year:

  • The Cavs are giving thought to signing draft-and-stash prospect Sasha Kaun this summer, according to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia. The 29-year-old from Kansas is on an expiring contract with Russia’s CSKA Moscow, as Mark Porcaro shows in our Draft Rights Held Players database, and Carchia hears that Kaun has told the Russian club that he won’t be back next season. Cavs coach David Blatt coached Kaun on the Russian national team, Carchia notes.
  • The Pistons are in line for the seventh overall pick pending the lottery, as our Reverse Standings show, but coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy admits that he hasn’t seen an entire Kentucky game all year, MLive’s David Mayo observes. Van Gundy’s coaching duties have kept him from seeing much college basketball at all this season, and breaking down prospects is a task that he’s left to scouts and other staffers, as Mayo details. Still, Van Gundy added that he intends to watch video before the draft of just about every game the top 10 or 15 prospects played this season, according to Mayo.
  • Draft-and-stash signee Nikola Mirotic has raised his game to fill the void of the injured Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson, turning into the sort of shooter the Bulls had hoped fellow rookie Doug McDermott would become, writes Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com.
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