Central Notes: J.R. Smith, Brooks, Pistons

The Cavaliers‘ mini-camp has gotten underway in California, with coaches and players in attendance, but one member of last year’s championship roster is noticeably absent, as Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com details. Head coach Tyronn Lue tells Vardon that the team misses J.R. Smith, who remains unsigned.

“I mean, you can feel it,” Lue said. “J.R., he’s the heart and soul of [the Cavaliers]. Usually when it’s anything involving the team, J.R. would be there and would be right in the middle of it. You’d hear him laughing or if it’s work, he’d be out there giving it his all. It’s hard.”

As we heard earlier this week, Smith isn’t in California with the rest of the Cavaliers, since contract talks between the two sides remain at an impasse. According to Vardon, it seems unlikely that Smith and the Cavs will reach a deal by the time the team meets the media on Monday for the start of training camp.

Here’s more from across the Central division:

  • Explaining why he chose to sign with the Pacers in free agency, Aaron Brooks suggests to Jim Ayello of The Indianapolis Star that he thinks the team’s roster is “loaded,” and that at this stage in his career he wants to play on “a team that’s winning games.” Brooks also knows his role in Indiana and believes he’ll be a an ideal fit off the bench behind starting point guard Jeff Teague.
  • As Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes, 14 of the Pistons‘ 15 regular-season roster spots appear set, with just one up for grabs. That last opening figures to come down to Ray McCallum vs. Lorenzo Brown for the No. 3 point guard job. Langlois speaks to both players about the possible opportunity ahead of them as they compete for that roster spot.
  • In a separate piece for Pistons.com, Langlois fields Pistons-related questions from readers, discussing a possible extension for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, why Detroit chose Ish Smith as its backup point guard, and how the team’s roster might change over the next 12 months.

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