Rockets, Pistons, Knicks among teams still sorting out starters

Scott Halleran

The NBA regular season is about to tip off, but a few teams are still figuring out who is going to be in the starting lineup on opening day.

While the vast majority of NBA teams have settled on their opening day starters, a day before the start of the regular season there are still a few coaches who haven't officially made their decisions. In Houston, Patrick Beverley and Jeremy Lin have been battling for the point guard spot. The two of them were alternating starts at the outset of preseason, but Lin has come off the bench in the last two. All head coach Kevin McHale said, though, is that he'll make up his mind by the time he has to submit his lineup card. To their credit, the two appear to be handling the situation professionally, via the Houston Chronicle:

"Obviously, I would love to start," Lin said. "I think every player would love to start but I think given our current situation, being able to being an offensive spark off the bench, being able to be a primary ball handler in that second group are big things too. Coach and I and Pat have all talked. At the end of the day, we are all trying to do whats right for the team. Egos aside, we are just trying to go out there and play. Who starts isn't important."

Beverley agrees. He said the Rockets are lucky to have so much depth at the position.

"I accept my role," he said. "We have three proven starting point guards. All three have started here (Beverley, Lin and Aaron Brooks). Me and Jeremy know each other well. We play together well too. He is a phenomenal playmaker. I try to pick his brain as much as I can. He is one of my best friends. It makes our team that much better. It's a great thing - it can go anyway. We are just teammates and we are playing well together."

The Detroit Pistons will be trotting out an enormous Josh Smith-Greg Monroe-Andre Drummond frontcourt, but there is no word yet on the backcourt. Brandon Jennings is going to be sidelined for the first four games of the season with an impacted wisdom tooth and Rodney Stuckey hasn't practiced with contact since injuring his thumb almost three weeks ago. Chauncey Billups, Will Bynum, Kyle Singler and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope have all started during the preseason and head coach Mo Cheeks has yet to indicate which of the guards have separated themselves.

New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson seems to have decided on four of his five starters: Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler. The remaining spot will either go to Andrea Bargnani or Metta World Peace. In the preseason Woodson chose to go with Bargnani, but the big man was not able to provide consistent production. On Monday, Woodson maintained that he still doesn't know in which direction he's leaning, and Anthony described the drastic differences between the two, via ESPN New York's Ian Begley:

"I don't yet," the coach said Monday when asked about starting World Peace or Bargnani against the Bucks. "I really don't." 
...

"With Bargnani, we can space the floor out; he causes some type of mismatches out there," Anthony said. "With Metta, he kind of brings that defensive mentality out on the basketball court, gets us going, gets the energy going in the game. We know what to expect from both them guys, what type of games that they have. (They are) totally two different type of games."

In Denver, things will be very different this year. It appears new head coach Brian Shaw would like to go with a starting lineup of Ty Lawson, Randy Foye, Wilson Chandler, J.J. Hickson and JaVale McGee. This would take relegate fan favorite Kenneth Faried to the bench and make him an instant candidate for the Sixth Man of the Year award. The Nuggets have been banged up throughout the preseason, though, and could be undermanned on opening night, via the Denver Post's Chris Dempsey:

The rundown: Guard Ty Lawson (groin), forward Wilson Chandler (hamstring) and guard Randy Foye (hip) did not practice on Monday. It was the second straight missed practice for Lawson, who was injured in the Chicago preseason game last Friday. Chandler has missed most of the month with his hamstring injury, and Foye was added to the injury list after taking a hard hit to the hip in Sunday's practice. He did not practice Monday.

This all means that you could see a Denver starting lineup of Andre Miller, Evan Fournier, Anthony Randolph, Hickson and McGee on Wednesday. Shaw has also tried out Jordan Hamilton and Quincy Miller in the starting small forward spot that used to belong to Andre Iguodala, so they can't be ruled out either.

Iguodala will be a starter for the Golden State Warriors, but it is unclear which talented young wing player will be beside him: Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes. The question has been up in the air since the Warriors acquired Iguodala and, with Barnes nursing a foot injury that might keep him out of their home opener, head coach Mark Jackson might have a bit more time to answer it.

More from SB Nation NBA:

Welcome back, NBA! In-depth previews for all 30 teams

The Hook: Kobe's next contract and judging LA's motives

NBA Power Rankings: Miami debuts on top, but who's No. 2?

Assessing the 9 rookie head coaches

Flinder Boyd: 20 minutes at Rucker Park

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