Central Notes: Hoiberg, Smith, Maker, Pistons

Coach Fred Hoiberg plans to get tougher with players as he tries to fix the Bulls, writes K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. That was one of the points made at a team meeting Friday that capped a tumultuous week in which Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo all went public with comments about problems in the locker room. “His message was, ‘I’m going to hold you guys more accountable. I give you guys a lot of leeway because I care about you and I understand how hard it is to be an NBA player and to go home at night with so much on your back. I was there. I’ve been there. But now I have to do a better job.’ And I can respect that,” said Taj Gibson.

There’s more news from the Central Division:

  • Injured guard J.R. Smith isn’t worried about the recent turbulence in Cleveland, relays Chris Fedor of The Plain Dealer. The Cavaliers have been suffering through a losing skid that prompted LeBron James to call for management to add a backup point guard and then question whether the roster was good enough to repeat as champions. Cleveland was also tied to Carmelo Anthony trade talks, with rumors floating of an Anthony for Kevin Love proposal. However, Smith notes that last season also had its hectic moments –including the firing of coach David Blatt last January –before the team regrouped to win its first NBA title. “We’ve been here before,” Smith said. “We was in the same situation last year. We were losing games. I believe it was Brooklyn, we were in New York, and had a huge team meeting — a lot of team meetings last year about us losing and quote unquote stuff within the team and whatever. But it’s all good. It’s all love and we love each other.”
  • Thon Maker‘s start at center Saturday night could be part of a trend, according to Matt Velasquez of The Journal Sentinel. Bucks coach Jason Kidd said Maker’s playing time will probably increase as the season wears on. “We would like to see more [of Maker] so someone has to sit,” Kidd said in explaining why Miles Plumlee was pulled from the starting lineup. “I thought the second group yesterday did a really good job of getting us back in the game and when he’s been on the floor for us he’s been positive so we’ve got to figure out how to get him more minutes on the floor.”
  • Injuries through the first half of the season make it difficult for Pistons coach/executive Stan Van Gundy to make informed decisions before the trade deadline, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. The Pistons are a disappointing 21-26, but only a game-and-a-half out of a playoff spot.
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