Central Notes: DeRozan, J. Carter, Garland, Giannis, J. Walker

It has been up-and-down season so far for the Bulls, who got off to a 5-14 start and have gone 14-9 since then to move into a play-in spot in the East. Viewed back in the fall as a candidate to blow up their roster prior to the trade deadline, the Bulls no longer have a clear path at the deadline, especially with Zach LaVine generating little interest.

While fans and league observing will be keeping a close eye on the Bulls in the coming weeks to see which direction they go, DeMar DeRozan – a possible trade or extension candidate – made it clear he won’t be checking Hoops Rumors for updates.

“I don’t sit up here refreshing my apps in the morning to see what’s what, rumors or anything,” DeRozan said, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “Should we, shouldn’t we . . . it’s a tough question for me because being in the league so long, I can really be at a point where that [expletive] doesn’t bother me.

“… My focus is making sure we’re trending in the right direction, no matter what happens. … For me, I just have learned not to carry that emotion with me because it will drive you crazy, constantly worrying about what somebody else is going to do, blah, blah, blah. I really don’t worry about it. I can’t.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • A regular contributor off the Bulls‘ bench for most of the season, guard Jevon Carter was a DNP-CD twice last week before returning to the team’s rotation for the past two games. He’s unfazed by his inconsistent role, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link). “In and out of the rotation, that don’t really mean nothing to me,” Carter said. “I’m in the NBA. I’m blessed to be here. I’m ready whenever my name is called. Whether that’s for 82 games or 2 games, I’m ready whenever.”
  • As expected, Cavaliers guard Darius Garland was cleared this week to resume basketball activities, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (subscription required). The former All-Star, who has been out for over a month due to a fractured jaw, will need some time to get back into game shape, but the hope is that he’ll be back on the court before the end of the month.
  • Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo will be sidelined for Wednesday’s contest in Cleveland due to a right shoulder contusion, tweets Eric Nehm of The Athletic. The two-time MVP was not previously listed on the injury report. There’s no indication yet of how long he might be out.
  • After being drafted eighth overall last June, Pacers forward Jarace Walker hasn’t played regular minutes as a rookie, but he logged a season-high 26 minutes in Monday’s loss to Utah. As Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star writes, Walker showed signs of promise, racking up four steals and two blocks, but also showed why the team has been reluctant to feature him more consistently — he made just 3-of-11 shots from the floor and Indiana was outscored by 17 points while he was on the court. With the Pacers poised to acquire Pascal Siakam, Walker will likely remain out of the rotation for the foreseeable future.
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