NBA Daily: The Odd Men Out: Central Division

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With summer hitting the home stretch, the 2018-19 NBA season is inching towards us. Training camp is set to begin in late September and players are chomping at the bit to get things started.

In the coming weeks, Basketball Insiders will look at multiple elements regarding teams and their rosters on a division-by-division basis. “Odd Men Out” is going to be the series to start us off. Essentially, we’ll be picking players in their respective situations that don’t seem to fit the direction of the franchise they’re a part of.

The Central Division is the first group we’ll be focusing on. Here are five players that fit the bill.

Robin Lopez –Chicago Bulls

In terms of roster fit, Lopez probably makes the least amount of sense for where he is. The Bulls are in year two of their rebuilding process and have promising young talent on the rise.

Lauri Markkanen showed that he has the potential to be a number one scoring option. Gar Forman and John Paxson used the team’s seventh overall draft pick on Wendell Carter Jr., indicating that they’ve found their center of the future. Between those two and Cristiano Felicio still waiting in the wings to receive a more expanded role, maybe this will be the season that Chicago sends Lopez elsewhere better.

Kyle Korver –Cleveland Cavaliers

Similar to the Bulls’ case, the Cavaliers are set to rebuild, albeit a little differently. Sure, they could keep Korver and have him finish off his career as a shooting mentor for the younger players. In fact, he’s already done outstanding work helping with Cedi Osman’s form and could help out with Sam Dekker’s perimeter woes.

Yet if Cleveland finds itself receiving an offer involving a draft pick—pending on how Korver plays this upcoming season—then it’d probably be smart to make a deal. He has plenty to offer as a veteran presence in a locker room and comes with championship pedigree. Every team could use that, especially a contender.

John Henson—Milwaukee Bucks

There’s a new head coach in town in Milwaukee, and Mike Budenholzer sure likes to play small ball. During his best days in Atlanta, he had Al Horford as the team’s primary center and Paul Millsap manning the four to stretch things out. If you’re not multi-skilled, there’s a good chance you won’t see too much playing time with him.

Henson is primarily a shot-blocking center with improved rebounding skills but has little versatility. At 27 years old, he should be entering his prime, but it seems that he might not eclipse the 11 and 7 that he averaged in his second year. The Bucks brought in Brook Lopez as a player they’ll look to utilize at the five in addition to letting Thon Maker get out there and make his presence felt. The clock could be ticking on Henson because of that.

Langston Galloway –Detroit Pistons

It was a less than ideal first season for Galloway after inking a three-year, $21 million contract with the Pistons. His three-point shooting dipped from the previous season, as well as his offensive production as a whole. It was so poor that Stan Van Gundy elected to play 28-year-old professional journeyman Dwight Buycks ahead of him at times in February.

Dwane Casey is the captain of the ship now in Detroit, and he’s not going to give playing time to somebody who struggles to put the ball in the basket. Between rookies Khryi Thomas and Bruce Brown and a veteran like Jose Calderon, the Pistons have a number of intriguing options for that purpose now. Galloway could be looking over his shoulder if he’s not careful.

J.R. Smith—Cleveland Cavaliers

There are multiple players in Cleveland who could be dealt in a trade because of the mixed roster construction. It’s a combination of seasoned veterans with over 10 years of experience and players who have zero to four years under their belts. Considering that the team still needs a scorer, Smith could stick around for a bit.

However, just like with Korver, it’s possible that the 14-year swingman could be having a bounce-back season by the time the trade deadline comes around. The Cavaliers should be all ears when it comes to this as they continue to aim for younger players. Smith has shown two-way potential before he was injured, so it’s possible that he can again. Of course, it could be a chore to find a willing taker due to his four-year, $57 million deal, although the final year of that contract only $3.87 million is guaranteed. Maybe a bad contract for a bad contract swap would suffice?

As you can see, outside of the Indiana Pacers in this writer’s opinion, the Central Division has a number of guys that could use a change of scenery—not just for their team’s sake, but for their own benefit as well.

Stay tuned to Basketball Insiders for a breakdown of the remaining five divisions’ odd men out.