Central Notes: Allen, Rubio, Simmons, Green

The Cavaliers‘ fast start has raised expectations in Cleveland, Jarrett Allen tells Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Coming off a 22-50 season, the Cavs were hoping to improve enough to contend for a spot in the play-in round, but the team is now 9-8 and has started to aim a little higher.

“We’re definitely shooting for the playoffs,” Allen said. “First, I think people thought, let’s just get in for the play-in game, be one of those ninth or tenth seeds. But now, I guess you’ve got to be in the play-in if you’re seven or eight, but we want to be in one of the old seven or eight playoff spots.”

Allen covers several topics in the interview, including the five-year, $100MM contract he signed during the offseason. Although he was a restricted free agent and the Cavaliers could have waited to match any offer on the open market, they were aggressive and reached a deal quickly to keep him in Cleveland.

“I never thought that would happen,” Allen said of being a $100MM player. “I’m not saying that I didn’t believe in my basketball abilities. I didn’t know that people saw that in me on the court. And you know, now that I have it, nothing’s really changed. I’m still who I am. I’m still going to be who I am on the court. There’s a reason I got the $100 million. I don’t think I need to go out there and shoot 20 threes a game. It’s a dream, and we’ll keep it that way.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers‘ offseason addition of Ricky Rubio has become more important with the loss of Collin Sexton for the rest of the season, writes Kevin Pelton of ESPN. Rubio has ranked second on the team in minutes played in the four games since Sexton was injured.
  • Recent rumors about a possible Ben Simmons trade don’t make sense for the Pistons, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Primarily a ball-handler on offense, Simmons isn’t a good fit for a team that already has Killian Hayes and Cade Cunningham, Beard points out. There are also questions about how Simmons would affect the culture of a young team and concerns about taking on his hefty contract.
  • Part of the Bulls‘ improvement on defense stems from more playing time for Javonte Green and the trade for Derrick Jones Jr., since both Green and Jones can guard multiple positions, observes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. They have been asked to contribute more to the team’s interior defense while Nikola Vucevic is sidelined with COVID-19. ‘‘Position-less basketball, right?’’ Green said. ‘‘That’s our job. We’re not here to completely shut down anybody; we’re here to do our part in making life hard on (opposing big men) while (center Nikola Vucevic) is out.”
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