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For Starters, We'll Have...

With two pre-season games left, the Clippers have done very little to resolve the question of who will be starting on the wings.

In looking for clues in the pre-season thus far, you can toss out the Golden State game, where most of the regulars rested and the starting lineup included Korolev, Ewing, Jawad Williams and Paul Davis.

In the two games in Moscow, with all the Clippers regulars playing, Maggette started once and Ross started once.  Mobley and Cassell were the starting back court in both Moscow games.  

Ross and Maggette have each started two games against NBA opponents, with Ross starting both games in which he appeared.  However, Maggette has played more minutes than Ross.

Mobley offered to come off the bench in a meeting with Dunleavy back on October 12.  It was a nice gesture by Cat, but it does not appear to be one the coach will take him up on.  MD really seems to like having Mobley on the floor - he was second only to Brand in minutes played last season, and continues to get big minutes this pre-season.  I'm suggesting we change Cat's nickname to 'Blanket' and call Dunleavy 'Linus'.

The water has been further muddied by pre-season injuries.  With Kaman sitting out all of the USA games, Brand has been starting at 5, and Tim Thomas has gotten some starts at the 4.  Thomas is certainly a viable NBA starter, but he won't get more than situational starts for the Clips, if only because he was signed to come off the bench.

Dunleavy has said that Cassell is the starter at point guard.  However, it is an open question within the organization as to when that will change.  Here's what we know:  Sam Cassell will start in Phoenix on Nov. 1, 2006, and Shaun Livingston is penciled in as the starter for opening day, 2008.  For the 163 games in between, it's up in the air.  Kevin at ClipperBlog has put the over-under on Livingston's promotion at the second week in January - call your bookies.  

It's certainly a great problem to have, 8 players on your roster deserving to start.  

I've always said that I thought Maggette would be a starter again.  I felt that he had lost his job because of injuries, and that he was simply too good to be a reserve.  He was the Clippers leading scorer in 03-04 and 04-05 - why would he be a reserve if he's healthy?

But the disjointed nature of this training camp has hurt his chances of regaining his starting spot.  With the pre-season split literally to opposite ends of the earth, the well-publicized problems in Moscow, and a family emergency that took Corey back to Chicago from Santa Barbara, it just seems like Dunleavy is going to go into this regular season the way he ended last season.  He just hasn't had everyone inone place long enough to decide on a change.

So look for Kaman, Brand, Ross, Mobley and Cassell to start on opening day.

But I expect that Maggette will get significantly more minutes than Ross (as he usually did even coming off the bench last season) and that eventually he will be reinserted into the starting lineup on a regular basis.