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Kings notes: Omri Casspi starts as George Karl is undecided on future lineups

Omri Casspi has started the past two games, but there is no guarantee he’ll start Tuesday when the Kings host Utah. Coach George Karl said he’s still unsure how to proceed while center Willie Cauley-Stein is sidelined.
Omri Casspi has started the past two games, but there is no guarantee he’ll start Tuesday when the Kings host Utah. Coach George Karl said he’s still unsure how to proceed while center Willie Cauley-Stein is sidelined. The Associated Press

With injuries constantly changing circumstances, there’s still no certainty when it comes to the Kings’ starting lineup.

Omri Casspi has started the past two games, but there is no guarantee he’ll start Tuesday when the Kings host the Utah Jazz.

Kings coach George Karl said he’s still unsure how to proceed while center Willie Cauley-Stein is out because of an open dislocation of his right index finger.

Starting Casspi moves Rudy Gay to power forward and also changes how Karl uses his bench. Karl has been pleased with the performance of the bench.

“I don’t know where I’m going to go, if I’m going to stay consistent,” Karl said “... I’m debating. I think it’ll be somewhat of a matchup situation.”

Entering Sunday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Casspi had started three games this season, averaging 14 points. He averages 10.6 points as a reserve.

Karl said not having Casspi as a reserve made him feel uncomfortable.

“I felt a little naked (Saturday at Houston) without Omri on our bench,” Karl said. “He and (Darren) Collison and (Marco) Belinelli have gotten kind of a nice rhythm (off the bench), I think.”

Karl could decide to start Kosta Koufos, which would take away Sacramento’s biggest reserve from the second unit. Another option would be to start a power forward such as Quincy Acy to keep the core of the second unit together.

Passing attractions – Sunday’s game featured the NBA’s two leaders in assists in Sacramento’s Rajon Rondo and the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook.

Rondo was averaging a league-leading 11 assists while Westbrook was second at 9.6 per game.

How they go about setting up their teammates is different. Westbrook is one the league’s most talented scorers who can set up teammates while still getting his offense.

Rondo is primarily a facilitator.

“I think Russell, he’s always in fifth gear, he’s always trying to attack you,” Karl said. “Rajon is more of a director of our offense. I think Russell, he’s trying to kill you, he’s trying to destroy you every possession, and he’s coming right down your throat if you’re not ready for him.”

Get up, get back – Karl noted in the Kings’ loss at Houston on Saturday, the team was hurt when players were frustrated and did not get back on defense and the Rockets converted those opportunities into quick points.

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Karl said there are several ways to deal with that, none of which he’s sold on 100 percent of the time.

“You can scream, you can take them out of the game or you can stop playing them,” Karl said. “That’s not always the right answer; there’s never one right answer. It’s always a combination of different circumstances and philosophies.”

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

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