Central Notes: LeVert, Bulls, Haliburton, King

After moving him in and out of the starting lineup last season, the Cavaliers are hoping to keep Caris LeVert‘s role more consistent in 2023/24, says Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (subscriber link). The veteran wing got one start early in the season when both Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell were unavailable, but has come off the bench in his other 10 appearances, including in games when just one of Garland or Mitchell is out — the plan is for that to continue going forward.

“I’m comfortable starting, coming off the bench, whatever,” LeVert told Fedor. “But I think for us this season, the goal was kind of to keep me in the same. Obviously, if Don and D.G. are out, I would probably start. But I think just for me in terms of getting my rhythm, we kind of discussed that it would be better for me to have one role — to come off the bench all season.”

No longer sharing the court as often with the team’s most ball-dominant guards, LeVert has bumped his scoring average to 18.0 points per game and his usage rate to 24.4% so far this season. Both marks are the highest they’ve been since he arrived in Cleveland. While we’re only a few weeks into the season, his play as a reserve has made LeVert a popular early pick for the Sixth Man of the Year award, an honor he’d like to earn.

“Of course, I want to win it. Of course I do,” LeVert told Fedor. “If I’m going to come off the bench, I want to be the best at it. That’s something that would be cool. But I think that is a team award more than anything else. If our team performs well, I think we will have a lot of people who get rewarded because of that. I’m just trying to play a good team game.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago checks in on where things stand for the struggling Bulls, citing sources who say management still isn’t prepared to launch an all-out rebuild, despite at least one report suggesting that could be in the cards. According to Johnson, the front office has “full autonomy” on its roster decisions, with ownership not attempting to influence the team’s direction.
  • After signing a five-year, maximum-salary extension with the Pacers in July, Tyrese Haliburton has shown so far this season why he was worthy of such an investment, averaging 24.7 points and a league-leading 12.5 assists per game with a scorching-hot .528/.436/.932 shooting line. As Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic writes, Indiana has played at the second-fastest pace in the league this season and Haliburton appreciates that the team has built its offensive system around the way he likes to play. “Teams don’t want to run with us. Nobody. I don’t care who it is. Nobody wants to run with us,” Haliburton said. “I’m relatively young, but that’s just the way I play basketball, and this organization has done a great job of allowing me to spread who I am throughout the organization and how I play throughout the organization.”
  • Pacers second-round pick Mojave King was originally expected to be a draft-and-stash prospect who played overseas this season, but the 6’5″ shooting guard ultimately decided to sign a G League contract and join the Indiana Mad Ants, the Pacers’ affiliate. King, who is recovering from a foot injury, spoke to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files about why he decided to go that route, noting that he liked the team he spent with the G League Ignite last season.
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