Mar 30, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert (back left) and forward Paul George (24) defend Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson (13) in the third quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Sekou Smith Still Sees Pacers as Kings of the Central Division

Pacers fans, let not your heart be troubled.

Even if you’ve lost faith in Indiana, Sekou Smith hasn’t. In a recent write up on the Hangtime blog, Smith thinks Indiana will still be on top of the Central Division even with the same roster moving forward.

The July 2014 ranking of the Central Division (based on what each team has on the roster as of July 29, 2014):

1) Indiana Paul GeorgeDavid WestRoy Hibbert and the crew won’t give up the banner without a serious fight. They’ve learned from last season’s mistakes and won’t have to worry about whatever distraction Stephenson might have been. A clean slate for 2014-15 is exactly what this team needs.

2) Cleveland  Sorry Cleveland, but LeBron coming home doesn’t automatically make you the top dogs in the division or the conference. Not around here. The pressure isn’t just on LeBron, either. New coach David BlattKyrie Irving and that supporting cast are all shouldering that load as well.

3) Chicago – Derrick Rose is feeling good. And that can’t be anything but a great thing for the Bulls. But we need more than good vibrations to push the Bulls up the food chain. If Rose lights it up in Vegas during USAB training camp and later in Spain, an updated evaluation will be in order.

4) Detroit Greg Monroe‘s future with the Pistons remains a bit uncertain. But the rock for the future is Andre Drummond, who is also on the USAB roster, working to earn a spot on the World Cup team. Van Gundy’s system requires shooters, which the Pistons added in Jodie Meeks, and to an extent Caron Butlerand D.J. AugustinJosh Smith remains the wild card.

5) Milwaukee  It’ll be fun watching Parker’s game evolve under a young coach like Kidd. But the Bucks are still at least two years away from being a factor. They simply don’t have the personnel to compete with the top teams. And there is a learning curve the entire organization will have to undergo before the Bucks get back into the mix.

That being said the hey words here might be based on what each team has on the roster as of July 29, 2014. It seems at least rumor wise, the reshuffling of rosters in the East is far from over.

Talks have quieted but the Pacers were appeared to be shopping George Hill and Roy Hibbert at one point, and I doubt training with a legend has suddenly changed the Pacers front office minds entirely. Indiana will probably continue to shop them but won’t get too committed to anything unless they find value.

The biggest possible change though may be if Cleveland is able to pull off the trade for Kevin Love. All of that is still speculation and rumor but…

I think I’ll wait to make any grand proclamations about the Central Division or the Eastern Conference, but we’ve went over a few of the issues here before. We know for sure Larry Bird’s job has gotten more difficult, in what hasn’t been the best of off seasons for Indiana.

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