Central Notes: LeVert, Sexton, Markkanen, Vucevic, DiVincenzo

The Cavaliers‘ search for a scoring guard to replace the injured Collin Sexton and the Pacers‘ interest in moving some of their veteran players could lead to a possible trade, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

Cleveland looks like a legitimate contender in the East with seven wins in its last nine games and will probably be seeking an upgrade before the February 10 trade deadline. An obvious area to address is replacing the 16.0 points per game that Sexton delivered before being lost for the year with a torn meniscus.

Caris LeVert is struggling with his shot this season, hitting just 42.1% from the field and 28.9% from three-point range, but he has a history of being a productive scorer. He is under contract for $17.5MM this season and $18.8MM in 2022/23, and at age 27 he fits in well with the Cavs’ timeline.

Indiana is known to like Sexton, who is only 22 and will be eligible for restricted free agency after the season. Vardon isn’t sure if the Pacers will commit to him in light of the injury, although it could allow them to re-sign him to a shorter, low-cost deal while he works his way back.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Cavaliers forward Lauri Markkanen has to fulfill a commitment to Finland’s military, but it shouldn’t affect his NBA availability, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.
  • Bulls center Nikola Vucevic has been struggling with his shot after missing two weeks with COVID-19 and he expressed his frustration after Saturday’s loss in Miami, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Vucevic was just 3-of-15 from the field and missed several opportunities close to the basket. ‘‘It’s tough when you want to play well and go out there and help the team win and don’t do your job,’’ he said. ‘‘I have a lot of pride in myself and put the work in, obviously. It’s not working for me right now, but that’s part of it. I’ve never been through a slump like this, and I just have to work myself out of it. I’m not doing what I’m supposed to do.’’
  • When Donte DiVincenzo makes his season debut this week, he will return to a Bucks team that has changed since DiVincenzo suffered an ankle injury in the playoffs, notes Brian Sampson of Forbes. The offseason addition of Grayson Allen, who has become a starter in the backcourt and has provided a shooting upgrade, will likely push DiVincenzo into a reserve role, but he remains valuable because of his defense and rebounding.
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