Central Notes: George, Noah, LeBron, Mozgov

New teammates and a new, more open attack make Paul George harder to guard, coach Frank Vogel contends, and the willingness of C.J. Miles to defend power forwards, a duty George was reluctant to assume, has the Pacers clicking, as TNT’s David Aldridge examines in his NBA.com Morning Tip.

“I would say it bothered me a little bit,” George said to Aldridge about the idea of guarding fours. “I was like, man, I worked so hard to get back, playing the three, and now you’re putting me at a new position. You guys don’t trust me? So it took some time to get that through my head. But now, everything is working out fine, and I’m happy with what we’ve got going right now.”

George, in his interview with Aldridge, called Miles a “lifesaver” for his willingness to step into the power forward role, and Miles, a full-time starter for the first time since 2008/09, doesn’t seem to mind. See more from the Central Division:

  • Joakim Noah seemed to make it clear when he spoke to reporters Tuesday that he wants to play more and that he’s frustrated that Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg won’t give him more minutes, but he’s also careful not to publicly criticize Hoiberg, observes Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com (Twitter links). The 2016 free agent who’s now coming off the bench tempered his comments by calling it a “blessing to play for this franchise,” notes K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune (All Twitter links). “I never want to come out,” Noah said. “But I understand this is my role now and I have to accept it and be the best that I can with what I have.”
  • LeBron James didn’t think the Cavs would be able to trade for Timofey Mozgov, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert last season, but when they did, he found their acquisitions reassuring signs of GM David Griffin‘s mettle, as the four-time MVP tells Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated. Their additions have been part of James’ struggle to change the culture of the Cavs into a winning one. “Coming back has been everything I thought,” James said to Jenkins of his 2014 return to Cleveland, “only a lot harder. I can’t tell you it’s been comfortable. But that’s O.K. I don’t really like to be comfortable.”

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