Paul George: 'We like our chances'
LeBron James and Andrew Wiggins to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Jabari Parker to the Milwaukee Bucks. Pau Gasol to the Chicago Bulls. Add in Eastern Conference finalist Indiana and the Central Division may now be prime-time viewing.
Indiana star Paul George went so far as to say the next NBA champion could reside in the division.
"It's safe to say that whoever is coming out of the East (in the NBA Finals) might be a Central Division team," George said. "Once again we've got our plate full. But we like our chances."
Also serving as a roadblock to a third straight Central Division title for the Pacers is the Detroit Pistons who, under the hand of new coach and general manager Stan Van Gundy, have added free agents to a team that already features Andre Drummond, Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith.
"That's what's fun about the NBA," Pacers backup Chris Copeland said Saturday night after playing in the Knox Indy Pro-Am game. "There are stars everywhere."
As a division, teams in the Central averaged 36.2 wins last season, which was good for the second worst in the NBA -- and that included a Pacers team that won an Eastern Conference-high 56 games.
If the Bulls can get a full season out of Derrick Rose and get contributions from rookies Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic to go along with defending Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah, they could be a formidable foe. NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson even says they could be the best team in the East.
With all the moves being made in NBA Free Agency the Top 4 teams in the East are: 1. Bulls 2. Cavs 3. Pacers 4. Wizards- Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) July 14, 2014
But all the talk will come back to James and the Cavaliers, who, in addition to the Ohio native, feature three other No. 1 overall draft picks, most notably Kyrie Irving and Wiggins.
All of which has even Las Vegas on board.
As of Monday, according to the latest odds from the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino, Cleveland's 4-1 odds to win the 2015 NBA championship trailed only San Antonio's 7-2 odds.
While the West may still be best, it'll no longer be all comedy in the Central.
Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com's Marc Stein contributed to this report.