Acquiring Kyle Lowry didn't come cheap for the Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors parted with a first-round draft pick to acquire Lowry from the Houston Rockets.
Most teams don't part with first-round picks for backups. Lowry, naturally, began the season as Toronto's starting point guard ahead of incumbent Jose Calderon.
Then Lowry began dealing with injuries, the last being a partially torn triceps that cost him seven games last month. During that time, Calderon began playing well and so did the Raptors, 8-2 in their last 10 games.
That left coach Dwane Casey to decide whether to plug Lowry back in the starting lineup or ride things out with Calderon.
The big offseason pickup would come off the bench, Casey concluded.
"Jose earned his spot," Casey said. "He earned his position."
Forget the notion that a player can't lose his starting job because of an injury.
Teams aren't simply putting injured stars back in the starting lineup as soon as they are cleared to play.
Superstars won't be reserves full time, but it's wrong to assume medical clearance means lineups return to how they were.
The Dallas Mavericks brought Dirk Nowitzki off the bench for six games as he came off knee surgery.
The New York Knicks are leading the Atlantic Division and have the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.
So Amar'e Stoudemire and his $100 million contract are coming off the bench now that he's back from knee surgery that kept him on the sideline until Tuesday.
"You have to look at each circumstance and see what's going on," Casey said, "(like) the dynamics going on with the team and make the decision of what's best for the team more than looking at individuals and status."
But Casey's decision-making won't end with Lowry.
Andrea Bargnani, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft has been out since Dec. 12 with a torn right elbow ligament and a strained right wrist.
During that time, Ed Davis, a first-round pick in 2010, has stepped in and been productive at power forward.
"(Davis) is going to make it a hard case to pull him out of the lineup because he's earned that position," Casey said.
The Raptors began the season 4-19, so in their case change might have been needed and injuries forced Casey's hand.
It also helps that Lowry and Bargnani weren't playing at an All-Star level when they were injured.
"If someone was playing at a high rate or averaging 30 or 28 points per game before they went out and we were winning, then you can make a case for that," Casey said.
A large part of coaching is managing egos and selling players on these types of changes.
Stoudemire, a six-time All-Star, has said all the right things as pundits question whether he'd accept a reserve role.
Casey believes it's not about the players' egos.
"I don't know if they're accepting of it," Casey said. "I think it's the thing to do for the team."
Love lost again
The Minnesota Timberwolves are 6-6 in games without All-Star power forward Kevin Love.
That's relevant now that Love has refractured his right hand and is out again.
The Timberwolves have been dealing with Ricky Rubio's attempt to come back from knee surgery and are 10th in the Western Conference.
Without Love and Rubio, they could be sinking fast.