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If it were anyone other than Spencer Hawes, the notion would be absurd.
Revenge based on a preseason game? Please.
But this is where Hawes has more in common with Michael Phelps than his looks, as they are both known to find inspiration from slights both real and perceived. It's a common trait among so many great competitors, Michael Jordan (did you see his vindictive HOF speech?) chief among them. Hawes may not have gold medals or championship rings, but he has that.
Which is why I'm guessing he isn't pleased with today's announcement from coach Paul Westphal that he will be coming off the bench tomorrow at Portland.
A year after Hawes' struggles against Greg Oden in the 2008-09 exhibition openersounded all kinds of premature alarms that irritated him to no end, the third-year center will not get his chance to share the floor with Oden from the start this time around.
Westphal said he plans on having Sean May share the frontcourt with Jason Thompson instead of Hawes, with Tyreke Evans, Kevin Martin and Desmond Mason rounding out the starting five. Hawes said all the right things afterward and may have meant them. I'm not buying it, though.
"I didn't know that (he was coming off the bench), but that's (Westphal's) decision," Hawes said. "We'll see. I'd say (it surprised me) a little bit. It's not my decision."
While Westphal didn't relate his decision to the slight left ankle sprain Hawes has been dealing with, he said it wasn't an indictment on Hawes' play. He said he's been known to play some of his reserves more than his starters, and said he simply likes May in that spot for the moment.
"I know people love to talk about who's going to start and who isn't, but I'm a coach that I kind of like to get a starting lineup and keep it if possible," he began. "Some coaches will change it all the time, depending on matchups. Sometimes you have to do that. Ideally, I would love to be able to get a starting lineup, and then I don't stay with predetermined substitution patterns.
"That more depends on the flow of the game. And a lot of times the most important players on the team are the guys that don't start. They might lead the team in minutes. I had Dan Majerle (in Phoenix) one year, (and) he led the team in minutes and never started a game. It's not who starts, it's who gets the minutes, who's effective and who finishes. That's the thing. I know people like to put extra importance on the starting lineup. But believe me, that's not as important as who gets the job done."
Asked if he was trying to send a message of any kind to Hawes, he said no.
"We have to start five guys, and we're a long ways from deciding anything (permanently), but that's the unit we'll start tomorrow," he said. "(Hawes) looked good today. He looked fine. A couple days rest were good for him (and his ankle)."
May, Westphal said, impressed his way into the role in the most subtle of ways.
"Sean has had a good camp," he said. "I think all week whatever team he has been on, things have functioned a little more smoothly because he's been on the team, both on offense and defense. He's a very intelligent, versatile player, and I think he's done a good job with helping things run more smoothly."
Hawes said the collective approach for the Kings must differ from that of most teams embarking on their preseason debut.
"It's preseason," Hawes said. "We've got a lot of stuff still to work on, and I'm just excited to be playing again. A lot of guys look at the preseason like it's just a tuneup. But for us, we're not in a position to do that. We've got to get all the momentum where we can, so we have to go out and get it however we can." - Sam Amick