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Kings notes: Who'll start? Smart gives clues

Published: Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 2C
Last Modified: Monday, Nov. 5, 2012 - 6:46 am

LOS ANGELES – The Kings' starting lineup for the season opener Oct. 31 hasn't been officially confirmed by coach Keith Smart, but he's indicated he knows who his starters will be and is even hinting at what he's thinking.

"Three guys (at point guard among Aaron Brooks, Jimmer Fredette and Isaiah Thomas) have done a good job," Smart said. "No one has really separated themselves. Off guard (Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton), nothing really earth-shattering there. The two guys have done a great job."

Smart said of the small forwards, "One guy is starting to move ahead based on what he's doing." That guy is probably James Johnson, who has provided the defensive spark the Kings have sought at the position in addition to a well-rounded game on offense.

"The (power forward) spot is kind of settled down," Smart said. Jason Thompson figures to be the starter there.

At center, "we don't have anybody that can push (DeMarcus Cousins) yet," Smart said.

Sunday night, rookie Thomas Robinson, Thomas, Evans, Johnson and Cousins started against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. It's the fourth different starting combination Smart has used in the preseason.

Decisions to come – With nine days left before the season opener at Chicago, Smart wishes all 17 players currently on the roster could be there. Rosters must be cut to a maximum of 15 players by Oct. 29.

The Kings have 14 players with guaranteed contracts. That means from among Tony Mitchell, Willie Reed and Hamady N'Diaye, at least two won't be around in a week.

All three could be cut to make room for another roster move later in the season.

"I wish this could be our team, I really do," Smart said. "I feel we've had a lot of growth from the young guys on our team. I thought all the guys we brought in, if we could keep them and have a true farm system because we've seen those guys develop."

If those players end up with the Kings' NBA Development League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns, that would be fine with Smart.

Smart has a good relationship with Reno coach Paul Mokeski. And there's already the possibility the Kings will send second-year forward Tyler Honeycutt to Reno for extra work after he missed much of the preseason because of a stress fracture.

"We've had conversations (with Mokeski), and he came to camp for a couple of days of practice with us," Smart said. "We have some of our guys I can't really get on the floor as we're starting to shut this thing down because I'm still searching for our guys."

Salmons still gone – Forward John Salmons missed his fourth preseason game while away from the team for personal reasons.

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