Central Notes: I. Mobley, Pistons, Haliburton, Pacers

Cavaliers rookie two-way player Isaiah Mobley, older brother to 2022 All-Rookie Cleveland center Evan Mobley, enjoyed an impressive Summer League turn. Now, the Cleveland front office is optimistic that the elder Mobley can make an impact on the team’s regular season roster as well, writes Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. He finished his first Summer League experience with a 15-point, 10-rebound game against the Hawks.

The Cavaliers, who finished with their first winning record in four years during the 2021/22 season, drafted the 22-year-old power forward out of USC with the No. 49 pick last month and signed him to a two-way contract. Despite an inconsistent jumper, Mobley was able to aid the Cavaliers’ Summer League roster on the court through playmaking in short stints, grabbing boards, and blocking opponents on defense.

“I mean, he’s comfortable with the ball in his hands,” Summer League head coach Mike Gerrity, an assistant under head coach J.B. Bickerstaff during the regular season, said of Mobley. “So we’re trying to put it in his hands at times to allow him to make the plays. And I think when him and [first-round lottery pick] Ochai [Agbaji] are coming into the dribble-handoff, it’s a really lethal combination, especially out here in summer league. And so, he’s growing, and he’s learning, just like the rest of these guys. But just his decision-making, his ability to make passes, make the right reads, and he’s an unselfish player.”

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • After spending the past three seasons languishing with lottery-bound young rosters, the Pistons‘ front office is buzzing about the team’s exciting core, writes Jamal Collier of ESPN. Detroit’s two 2022 lottery picks, shooting guard Jaden Ivey and center Jalen Duren, both flashed plenty of promise in this year’s Las Vegas Summer League showcase. “I think we hit a home run,” a team source expressed to Collier. “We positioned ourselves well and [general manager] Troy [Weaver] did a great job of putting guys together on the same timeline… We’ll probably have the youngest team in the league next year, or one of [them], so we have to be careful not to put too much pressure or set expectations. We’ve got great chemistry, and I think we’re going to be in position to make a big jump in wins.” The Pistons project Ivey, the fifth pick out of Purdue, as an ideal backcourt fit alongside 2022 All-Rookie First Team point guard Cade Cunningham.
  • Despite the fact that the Suns wound up matching the Pacers‘ maximum offer sheet to Phoenix center Deandre Ayton, Indiana guard Tyrese Haliburton appreciated his club’s willingness to pony up the dough for such a high-level player, as he told Alex Golden and Mike Facci in a recent episode of the podcast Setting The Pace (hat tip to James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star for the transcription). “Our front office is aggressive to want to get back in the playoffs,” Haliburton said. “They’re aggressive to compete for championships, as they should be, as any organization should be. And obviously they offered DA that deal and he accepted it. I think it would’ve been beneficial because he’s a great player, but Phoenix obviously matched as they probably should and you just kind of move on from it.”
  • The revamped Pacers will boast a young roster with high upside heading into the 2022/23 season. In another piece (subscriber link), Boyd takes a look at the team’s current personnel, speculating about potential starters and the bench rotation. Boyd also notes that current projected veteran starters Buddy Hield and Myles Turner could be traded before the 2023 deadline.
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