Kyle Singler will likely start at small forward when the Detroit Pistons open the regular season Wednesday in Denver, Stan Van Gundy revealed Sunday. The third-year swingman got the nod over veteran Caron Butler, who signed a two-year, $9 million contract this summer.
"I can change my mind still. I'm allowed to do that. But yeah," Van Gundy said about starting Singler, according to David Mayo of MLive.
Funny enough, Van Gundy tipped his hand to reporters before telling Singler. "That's news to me. He hasn't told me I'm starting yet," Singler said, according to Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News. "So I'm sure if that's the case he'll tell me. I've started before and felt comfortable doing it. I feel comfort with the guys who are starting. It basically comes down to bringing what I can, playing hard, playing smart. Being as solid as I can."
It sounds like Van Gundy had already decided Singler would see the most minutes at the position, so choosing who would receive the honor of starting simply came down to managing his rotation. From Goodwill:
If Singler came off the bench, he would have to play 15 to 18 straight minutes, in theory, limiting his potential effectiveness.
"The main reason is that Kyle can handle more minutes on a nightly basis than Caron," Van Gundy said. "If you're gonna have a guy playing the most minutes off the bench, he'll have to play long stretches."
Butler, 34, may not be able to play consistent minutes night in and night out. He appeared in just five preseason games, sitting for two games to rest. It's possible Butler could continue to rest during certain regular season games, or at the very least have his minutes reduced on the tail end of back-to-back games. From Mayo:
"I don't think we can go out every night and get 32 minutes out of Caron. I think we can do that with Kyle," Van Gundy said. "Caron, it'll be night to night. I'll probably try to keep his minutes somewhat limited in the first half, nine to 12, somewhere in there, which frees up the second half, based on how he's looking and feeling."
Cartier Martin, who figures to enter the season as the primary backup at shooting guard until Jodie Meeks returns, could also enter the mix for backup small forward minutes on nights that Butler isn't available.
Singler appeared in all seven preseason games, averaging 10.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.3 rebounds in 29.9 minutes. He shot just 29.7 percent from 3-point range, but that's likely a matter of sample size — he's averaged 36.8 percent for his career, and 38.2 percent last year. He's started 110 times of his 164 career games since being drafted by the Pistons.
Butler averaged 5.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists in five preseason games, shooting 33.3 percent from beyond the arc.