Central Notes: Cunningham, Middleton, Rivers, Williams

Cade Cunningham knows he won’t get more individual accolades until the Pistons turn things around, he told James Edwards III of The Athletic. Cunningham has put up solid stats after missing most of last season due to a shin injury but Detroit has won just eight games.

“With how the league is, we reward winning,” Cunningham said. “People are going to say everything I’m doing is empty and meaningless until I win games. That’s what I plan on doing.”

Cunningham is eligible to sign a rookie scale extension this offseason. He’s averaging 22.2 points and 7.4 assists per game, and it would be a surprise if Detroit doesn’t make a max offer to the 2021 No. 1 pick.

“I don’t do the comparison thing as far as me to these other players. I know that I’m that level of being an All-Star, but I haven’t won enough games. I respect that,” Cunningham said. “I know that once I do that, all the other stuff will come with it.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Khris Middleton didn’t play in the Bucks’ 21-point victory over Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon but it shouldn’t be long before he returns to the lineup, Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets. The veteran wing hasn’t played since the All-Star break due to a left ankle sprain. “He’s getting closer. I don’t know if I’m going to say close enough that we could think next game, but he’s getting a lot closer. He’s feeling a lot better,” coach Doc Rivers said.
  • Speaking of Rivers, Jamal Collier of ESPN details the coach’s first month since replacing Adrian Griffin as the Bucks‘ head coach. Rivers revealed that he said in a phone conversation with his brother that he felt “full” again after returning from his broadcasting job to the sidelines. “I missed it more than I thought,” Rivers said. “I thought I may not do this again. If the right job [didn’t come up] I wasn’t doing it. … Then the first day … man, I felt like I was at home again. I didn’t know that. I just felt normal. Good. I felt full. You’ve got to be full when you’re working and I felt full.”
  • Patrick Williams‘ future is cloudy after word broke that he’ll need season-ending foot surgery. The Bulls forward will be a restricted free agent this offseason unless the front office doesn’t give him a $12.97MM qualifying offer. Williams told The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry he’s not overly concerned about what the offseason will bring. “I know what I showed when I was healthy this season,” he said. “I think I know who I am as a player and what I’m capable of as a player. So, ‘nervous’ isn’t the word. I’m kind of excited to see what happens. And just ready to get back to playing.”
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