Popeye Jones

Central Notes: James, Wiggins, McMillan, Pistons

LeBron James is falling in the NBA Finals with the Cavaliers team that he built, writes Dave Hyde of The Sun-Sentinel. It was James’ decision to leave Miami for Cleveland two years ago because he saw a franchise with younger talent, Hyde notes, and he pushed for the deal that sent Andrew Wiggins to Minnesota for Kevin Love. James also approved the trade with New York that brought J.R. Smith and supported the hiring of Tyronn Lue, who had no previous experience as a head coach. Cavs managment has given James everything he wanted since his return, Hyde writes, saying it shows the danger of letting a player make too many personnel decisions.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • James’ desire to have Love as a teammate instead of Wiggins shaped the Cavaliers‘ destiny, contends Shaun Powell of NBA.com. Wiggins’ defensive prowess would have been much more valuable against the Warriors, Powell argues, noting that he is also capable of creating offense with his dribble, in contrast to Love, who has settled into a role as a 3-point shooter since he arrived in Cleveland. Wiggins also could have eased the Cavaliers’ financial burden with a rookie contract instead of the maximum deal that Love got last summer.
  • The Cavs’ bench has been letting them down in the finals, points out Marc Berman of The New York Post. Channing Frye, who was acquired in a February deal with the Magic, only has two points in the series. Iman Shumpert has been held to 11. Love came off the bench to score 11 in Game 4, but the rest of the reserves combined for just four points. Berman says depth will need to be the focus of Cleveland’s offseason moves.
  • New Pacers coach Nate McMillan will keep Dan Burke and Popeye Jones as part of his staff, tweets Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports. Agness says McMillan seems to have decided on a third assistant, but no announcement has been made.
  • The Pistons may concentrate on power forwards with the 18th pick in the draft, writes David Mayo of MLive. Detroit traded that pick to Houston for Donatas Motiejunas in a February deal that was later rescinded, so it’s clear that Pistons management recognizes the need for help at the four spot. Mayo lists Michigan State’s Deyonta Davis, Gonzaga’s Domantas Sabonis, Marquette’s Henry Ellenson and Kansas’ Perry Ellis as four possibilities.

Central Notes: Pacers, Cavs, Workouts, Pistons

The Pacers, who typically employ three assistant coaches, will have at least one hole to fill in that group after Nate McMillan‘s promotion to head coach. However, as Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star writes (via Twitter), the team would like to retain its other two assistants, Dan Burke and Popeye Jones. That would leave one opening, and McMillan would have the opportunity to pick his replacement, per Buckner.

Here’s more on Indiana and a few more Central teams:

  • The Pacers held their first pre-draft workout on Tuesday, and will hold another session on Wednesday, according to a pair of announcements from the team. Participants today that had not been previously reported included Dorian Finney-Smith, Michael Gbinije, Sheldon McClellan, and Tyrone Wallace. Tomorrow, Ryan Arcidiacono, Wade Baldwin, Matt Costello, Max Landis, Patrick McCaw, and Kaleb Tarczewski will work out for Indiana.
  • Before he works out for Indiana on Wednesday, Tarczewski participated in a workout for the Cavaliers today, tweets Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops. Cleveland also took a look at Maryland’s Rasheed Sulaimon in that workout, says Scotto.
  • Thon Maker had been scheduled to take part in Indiana’s workout on Wednesday, but he won’t participate due to a scheduling issue, tweets Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv. Zagoria suggests that Maker will still work out for the Pacers and Bulls at some point.
  • Given how defined their roster already is, the Pistons could have the opportunity to gamble on upside with the 18th overall pick in the draft, rather than seeking instant help, writes Keith Langlois of Pistons.com.

Odds & Ends: Clippers, Cousins, Pacers, Self

While a few of the more notable games on the 2013/14 NBA schedule have already been reported, the full slate won't be announced until later this afternoon. As we look forward to the 5:00 CT announcement, let's check out a few odds and ends….

  • Chris Paul's new five-year contract with the Clippers makes him one of the NBA's only players locked up through 2018, but Paul believes the team's other long-term fixture will be crucial to L.A.'s success. "I think our team will definitely go as Blake [Griffin] goes," Paul told Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
  • Grantland's Zach Lowe examines the case of DeMarcus Cousins, exploring whether it makes sense for the Kings to try to lock him up or to explore potential trades.
  • Popeye Jones will join Pacers coach Frank Vogel's staff, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter).
  • At Brandon Knight's introductory presser, Bucks GM John Hammond told reporters, including Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, that the team is "by no means" in tanking mode for 2013/14.
  • Kansas coach Bill Self hasn't ruled out the possibility of someday leaving the NCAA for an NBA job, as he told Michael Baldwin of the Oklahoman. "It hasn't really tempted me because I haven't had that many people talk to me about it," Self said. "But at some point and time, sure, I think it would. It would be great to be able to match wits with the best athletes in the world, but I'm certainly happy where I'm at."
  • Bobby Brown is flying to New York to meet with the Knicks, tweets Marc Berman of the New York Post. Brown is under contract with a Chinese team, but has until August 15th to sign an NBA deal and opt out.