Mason Looking Like Kings' Starting SF
But that's only if he decides to roll out a smaller lineup that would include Beno Udrih as the starting point guard. Westphal has even suggested that rookie Omri Casspi is in the mix, saying he likes Casspi's hustle and competitiveness.
And Westphal also claims he hasn't ruled out Andres Nocioni -- despite acknowledging that he likes Nocioni off the bench. But if you've been watching the Kings in the preseason, it's starting to seem apparent who's going to get the nod for the regular-season opener against Oklahoma City: Desmond Mason.
When asked if Mason was his starting small forward after the Kings defeated the Warriors 101-94 in a preseason game on Saturday, Westphal responded: "He was the last two games. Let's see where it goes."
The small forward free-for-all was brought on by the fluke forearm injury to Francisco Garcia, who is expected to be out approximately four months. After missing the first two preseason games because of a bad back, Mason has begun to assume the starter's mantle.
"I don't really like to change (starting lineups) too much depending on opponents," Westphal said. "Doesn't mean that we might not be forced to do that in some respects. But every first quarter we've played with Desmond starting has been an excellent first quarter."
What Westphal likes most about Mason is that he's found a way to contribute despite shooting poorly from the field in his two games. Mason is just 2-for-13 in the preseason, but it's all the other stuff that seems to be winning him the job.
After Saturday's win, Westphal was quick to point out that he liked the job Mason did on Warriors' forward Corey Maggette in the fourth quarter.
"He's a proven pro and he gives us a defensive presence at several positions," Westphal said. "I like what I've seen a lot."
Which is what Westphal also says about Casspi, the raw and excitable rookie who wasn't afraid to take on the Stephen Jackson challenge. Casspi played a role in Jackson's 6-for-19 shooting performance and didn't seem out of place with some back-and-forth chippiness.
"He came in and was instrumental in getting this win," Westphal said. "He was tentative a few times, got a few sloppy traveling calls, but I like the way he keeps coming back. He's getting better all the time. What the future holds with the development of that spot, who knows? But I kind of liked the rotation tonight."
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