Central Rumors: James, Pacers, Bulls, Pistons

LeBron James averaged a career-low 35.6 minutes per game during the regular season last year and Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue plans to limit his minutes even more this season, Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com reports. Lue is determined to keep James and his other veteran players fresh heading into the postseason as they try to defend their championship, McMenamin adds.  “I’ve looked at the schedule, just seeing what makes sense and what’s smart when playing four-in-five type of nights,” Lue told McMenamin. “Can’t run our guys into the ground. We have to be smart, understand we have to take care of our bodies and take care of our key guys. Make sure that when we get to the playoffs we’re ready to go.”
In other news around the Central Division:
  • Pacers power forward Kevin Seraphin thought he might end up in Europe this season because there was so little interest in him during free agency, Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star writes. Seraphin signed a two-year, $3.6MM deal with Indiana after a poor season with the Knicks in which he was overweight, missed games with a knee injury and lost confidence, Ayello continues. Seraphin fired his agent and thought he’d end up in Europe until the Pacers came to the rescue, Ayello adds. “It was tough,” Seraphin told Ayello. “All that waiting. I kept thinking, ‘How the (heck) do I not have an offer?’ I feel like I’m young, and I still have a lot of potential; I still have a lot in the tank.”
  • Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo have taken leadership roles in the Bulls’ early practices, Sam Smith of Bulls.com reports. They have already done some on-court counseling to their younger teammates and that’s an encouraging development for a team that suffered through chemistry problems last season, Smith adds. “You just want to cut down all the chatter,” Rondo told Smith. “Only a couple of guys should be talking in practice. As far as disrupting, when they do stop practice coach has the voice, then assistant coach has the voice and then the other players.”
  • The Pistons gave journeyman power forward Jon Leuer a surprisingly lucrative four-year, $41MM contract this summer because of his offensive versatility but he’s also making a strong impression defensively in training camp, according to Aaron McMann of MLive.com. “The one thing I would say I’m surprised with is that he’s a lot better defensively than I thought,” coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy told McMann. “I thought he was decent – maybe average – defensively. I think he’s got a chance to be a lot better than that.”

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