After the Sacramento Kings' latest loss on Monday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Keith Smart told Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee that he'd consider lineup changes before Wednesday's game against the Indiana Pacers back at home. That's a big move, considering that Smart had adopted Paul Westphal's starting five (with the exception of the three games that Marcus Thornton missed).
Who are the candidates to drop out and step up?
Salmons isn't getting the job done ... and he's No. 2 on the roster in minutes played. He's played more than 20 minutes in 12 of 14 games, yet has only reached double-digits five times, grabbed five or more rebounds four times and has shot 50 percent or better once. He's been awful.
Smart has three real options if he wants to replace Salmons in the front five. He can do a straight-up swap for Greene or Garcia, or he can move Evans to small forward and promote a guard (Jimmer Fredette or Isaiah Thomas).
The pros of promoting Greene: he's a rangier defender than Salmons, is good in transition and is far more likely to cut off the ball than John. The cons: his shot has been nearly as bad as Salmons' in limited minutes this season, he's not a great rebounder (though far better than Salmons and Garcia this season) and his passing skills are underdeveloped.
Garcia is a better passer and has historically been a decent shooter, but he's cold this season, too. He's also a better off-ball defender than a man defender, and is as likely to score on any given possession as Salmons. Frankly, he's played no better than Salmons this season.
To win that position now, the best option is to move Tyreke Evans there. Reke is of course a good passer, has a better rebound rate than Salmons or Garcia despite playing PG and SG this season, and is the team's best or second-best scorer. He's also a superb defender against guards; he can handle most opposing SFs (non-LeBron/Melo category) as well as Salmons or Garcia, in my estimation.
The problem with moving Reke to small forward: you have to start someone else at the point. Jimmer Fredette has been really cold of late and wasn't great as the starting PG in Thornton's absence; Isaiah Thomas is viable, but Smart didn't play him at all on Monday and a Thomas-Thornton backcourt is a problem defensively.
1. Start Greene
2. Move Reke, start Isaiah
3. Start Garcia
4. Move Reke, start Jimmer
5. Start Salmons
102. Start Outlaw
At this point, swapping Hickson for Thompson seems like a no-brainer. Hickson is rebounding more consistently than JT, but he's also getting consistent minutes. Thompson's historic rebound numbers, typically as a starter (153 starts in 232 career games entering this season), are on par with Hickson's 2011-12 numbers. Thompson also happens to be a better passer, makes better decisions with the ball (though he's not perfect, obviously) and is far more efficient. Hickson's energy is great, and he seems to largely be doing what he's been told to do. But he also takes way too many jumpers (he's had more long twos than shots at the rim this season) and he just can't get the ball in the bucket.
The other option: start Greene as an undersized four to get the offense cutting more; Greene is the team's best off-ball mover, over Reke and Garcia. Thompson moves well from strong to weak post and seems comfortable dribble across the lane, but only really springs to the rim on pick and roll or pindown action. But Greene can't rebound well enough to be an answer at PF, and I wouldn't trust him defending guys like DeJuan Blair, Serge Ibaka or even David Lee.
1. Start Thompson
2. Start Greene at PF
3. Keep Hickson in there, but use a quicker hook and tell him to stop shooting period
46. Start Isaiah at PF
47. Start Outlaw