Whether big or small, SOME kind of change to the Suns starting lineup is coming tonight against Portland. It could be as benign and obvious as swapping Shannon Brown and Jared Dudley. Or it could be as crazy as swapping out the power forward and center too, though a change that sweeping would certainly be a temporary "message" more than a permanent change.
Phoenix Suns coach Alvin Gentry has not yet named a new starting lineup, but he has dropped a couple of ambiguous statements the last couple of days that could be twisted and loosely interpreted as "clues".
"[Morris] can get anything he wants," coach Gentry said about second-year power forward Markieff Morris to suns.com either yesterday or Monday, "If it would make him continue to play well and be as aggressive as he is."
Gentry was not talking about playing time. He was referring to his invitation of Morris for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, and whether Gentry should buy an extra turkey just for his extra-large guest.
Yet, you could twist and turn that comment into a huge vote of confidence for Morris, and even conclude that Gentry would gladly give Marcin Gortat's and Luis Scola's servings of turkey to the Philly boy if he plays well in his new starting role on Wednesday.
But no one would make that leap of faith and logic from such an innocent comment about a national holiday, would they?
"He will be in the game when we need stops," Gentry said of P.J. Tucker, when asked if Tucker's spot-minute role will change going forward.
On the surface, the comment implies that any lineup change would exclude Tucker from consideration. Gentry likes what Tucker brings when they need that extra boost of defense and hustle.
However, one could look closer at the lackluster play of the team when Tucker is NOT in the lineup as well as their last-in-the-league defense, and conclude that Gentry needs Tucker the whole forty-eight minutes. In that scenario, Gentry was telling us that Tucker is not only a starter but he's irreplaceable for even a minute a game.
"Gortat's 88-game starting streak could end at tipoff against the Trail Blazers" - Paul Coro on azcentral.com
Paul doesn't attribute any quotes or inside information to this statement in his article on azcentral.com after practice yesterday, but Paul always has scoops on player moves before they happen. He called the signing and keeping of fourth-PG Diante Garrett and PF longshot Luke Zeller last month, to name two very recent examples. He also called the drafting of Kendall Marshall and just about every Suns draft pick in the last eight years he covered the team.
Would Gentry actually start Jermaine O'Neal ahead of Marcin Gortat? If so, would that be a permanent change or just a "message" to the Polish Gazelle/Hammer/Machine? Most likely, the latter. O'Neal does not have the stamina to play starters' minutes, so he'd most likely play the Lopez role of 2010-11 - taking up the first few minutes of the first and third quarters, with the rest of the game up to the player working the hardest that night.
"__(crickets)__" - Gentry on the small forward and point guard positions
Neither tongue in cheek nor pointed message have blown in the direction of the small forward (Beasley) or point guard (Dragic) positions in any context since Gentry proclaimed upcoming changes.
One could take that as a sure sign Dragic and Beasley will have their names called tonight.
One could also twist and turn that silence into a sure sign that Gentry can't trust himself to keep a secret, so he's not even mentioning the ACTUAL changes he wants to make tonight.
A few potential starting lineups, then
... (and so on and so on)
We don't know if any of these changes will happen, but SOMETHING will change tonight.
"We'll take one guy or two guys or three guys or four guys out of the lineup, and we'll replace them with other guys who have played and done the same thing," Gentry said. "How many or what we're going to do, I don't know yet, but we're definitely going to do something.
"We've just got to be much more gritty, if you want to use that word, and much more resilient at the start of games."
And then yesterday:
"I think we've got a good feel of what we want to try to do and the reasons that we'll do it," coach Alvin Gentry said. "We'll see if that works and if not, we'll try something else."
Can you guess the new lineup?