Central Notes: Mathurin, Pacers, Atkinson, Borrego, Bucks

Pacers guard Bennedict Mathurin, who missed Indiana’s entire playoff run due to a torn labrum in his right shoulder, struggled with having to watch from the sidelines as his team advance all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, according to Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star.

“It was hard,” Mathurin said. “It was harder than expected, honestly. Watching the playoffs, watching the guys have fun and just being out there and competing at the highest level was hard for sure. But I think it has a positive side, just seeing the guys out there hooping. It definitely builds fire in me coming into next season.”

His head coach, Rick Carlisle, believes the former No. 6 overall pick can eventual blossom into stardom at the pro level.

“Benn Mathurin has a chance to be a star caliber player for the Indiana Pacers,” Carlisle said. “He has gotten to see over the last two-and-a-half months what wins. It is defense, speed, quick decision making and recognition. And so his workouts this summer are going to be geared toward fast, efficient, quick decision making and developing defensively. He has the ability to be a terrific two-way player in this league.”

This year, Mathurin saw his touches and minutes reduced somewhat as the club realigned itself around All-Star Tyrese Haliburton‘s orbit. Mathurin averaged 14.5 points on a .446/.374/.821 shooting line, plus 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 0.6 steals per game.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • The Pacers’ first pre-draft workout is slated for Friday, and will feature six players, per a team press release. Pittsburgh’s Blake Hinson, Tennessee’s Josiah-Jordan James, Weber State’s Dillon Jones, Florida’s Zyon Pullin, Liberty’s Kyle Rode, and Houston’s Jamal Shead will all attend the workout.
  • The Cavaliers have gotten the green light to interview Warriors assistant coach Kenny Atkinson and Pelicans assistant coach James Borrego, sources inform Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Cleveland fired coach J.B. Bickerstaff, even after he led the club to the second round in the East for the first time since LeBron James departed in 2018 free agency.
  • Though the Bucks finished their 2023/24 season with a respectable 49-33 record and the East’s No. 3 seed, injuries to All-Stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard doomed them to a swift first-round playoff upset against Indiana. Keith Smith of Spotrac previews the 2024 offseason in Milwaukee as the club looks to retool and hopefully return to the Finals for the first time since 2021.
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