Central Notes: Love, Carter, Stewart, Valentine

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (right calf strain) is progressing in his rehab and could be getting closer to a return, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes.

No specific timetable has been set for Love, who has missed the past 16 games. The Cavaliers have opened the season with a 9-10 record in his absence, mostly starting Larry Nance Jr. in his place.

“He’s doing light stuff on the court now and our expectation is he’ll do even more,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “Then we’ll get a fair judge of where he is once he gets on the floor.”

Love, 32, is coming off a campaign that saw him average 17.6 points, 9.8 rebounds and 31.8 minutes per game. He’s in the second season of a four-year, $120MM extension signed during the summer of 2018.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The injury to Wendell Carter Jr. will force rotation changes for the Bulls, Sam Smith of Bulls.com writes. Carter recently sustained a quad contusion and is expected to miss multiple weeks. “There may be some lineups that maybe we need Gaff (Daniel Gafford) out there, Cris (Cristiano Felicio) out there,” coach Billy Donovan said. “It could be a variety of different things. I think we’re going to have to be prepared to have significant and different rotations based on matchups and who we’re playing against.”
  • Pistons rookie Isaiah Stewart embodies the spirit of Detroit, James Edwards of The Athletic writes. Stewart, a tough-minded 19-year-old forward, is averaging 4.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 17.6 minutes through 18 games, showing potential on both ends of the floor. “When you play against him, you’re going to go against a ball of energy,” coach Dwane Casey said, “and you better bring your work boots and hard hat to go against him because he is going to bring it.”
  • Bulls forward Denzel Valentine has benefited from the team’s offseason coaching change, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Valentine appears to be in a much better situation than he was a year ago, with the former No. 14 pick now getting meaningful minutes off the bench. “Man, I actually do think about that,’’ Valentine said. “It’s just funny because at this time last year, I didn’t know what was going to happen. Granted, it’s different seasons. I was in and out of the lineup. It’s just crazy that things come full circle. You never know what can happen in this business. All you can do is bring a positive mindset and work hard every day. That’s what I try to do, no matter the situation. Obviously, it can be hard if you’re not playing or stuff like I went through last year. But I just have to control what I can control, and the rest will take care of itself.’’
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