Mike Bibby is the starting point guard in Atlanta. For now.

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Thumbnail image for jteague.jpgWhen the Atlanta Hawks open the season Oct. 27 in Memphis, Mike Bibby is going to be the starting point guard.

That is not shocking news, but rather a situation to monitor.

Bibby’s game is in decline, while Jeff Teague will enter the season with backup quarterback syndrome — every fan loves the backup quarterback and thinks he should be the starter (except in Indianapolis). But Larry Drew confirmed to the Atlanta Journal Constitution that Bibby starts.

“(Teague has) got to earn that,” L.D. said. “It’s not just going to be handed to him. If he proves it, he has an opportunity. I will come back with the starting lineup we’ve had in the past. Unless somebody clearly, clearly beats somebody out, [then] that’s something I would have to take a look at. But I am going with the normal guys [to start].”

Teague knows that. At Summer League in Vegas the coaches were all over him to be more aggressive, to take charge of the game from the point. The results were inconsistent, but Teague seemed to improve as the league wore on. He told us then he was getting the message.

“Mike’s getting a little older and coach is telling me every day to work harder and I’ll have opportunities I just need to go seize the moment and that’s what I’m doing, just getting ready for that,” Teague said in Vegas.

Teague sees a veteran team around him in Atlanta and tends to defer to them too much. Rather than create for them, he lets them do the work and floats through the game. Drew’s new offense of off the ball movement will change some of that.

But Teague has to change it for himself.

What to watch is not who starts the game, but who finishes them. And more importantly, not in October but by February who is finishing them. Teague has his chance, he just has to grab it.

But for now, it’s Bibby’s job.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.

Pacers president Kevin Pritchard likes tweets critical of Paul George trade

AP Photo/Darron Cummings
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Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was widely panned – including by me – for trading Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Oops.

Oladipo and Sabonis are killing it while George has underwhelmed.

Upon George’s return to Indiana, Pritchard took the opportunity to gloat. The Pacers general manager recently liked these tweets (hat tip: Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation):

This is petty – and I love it. Pritchard earned the victory lap.

Report: Rival executives still expect Paul George to leave Thunder for Lakers

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Paul George has been pretty open about his plans.

He told plenty of people – including the Pacers – he planned to leave for the Lakers in the summer of 2018. Even after the Thunder traded for him, George spoke of the lure of playing for his hometown team.

Of course, George also left the door open to re-signing with Oklahoma City. He proclaimed he’d be dumb to leave if the Thunder reached the conference finals or upset the Warriors.

So far, Oklahoma City (12-14) doesn’t even look like a playoff lock, let alone a team capable of knocking off Golden State or reaching the conference finals. So, cue the inevitable speculation.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Rival execs still expect Paul to head for the Lakers in free agency

Do these executives have inside information into George’s thinking, or are they just speculating based on already-available information? Some executives are incentivized to drum up the Lakers threat, because they want to trade for George themselves now. If these executives insist George will leave for Los Angeles regardless, they might pry him from Oklahoma City for less.

There’s also a theory George is hyping his desire to sign with the Lakers so a team would have to trade less for him. That got him to the Thunder for what looked like a meager return (but hasn’t been). It might get him to a more favorable situation before the trade deadline without hampering his next team long-term. Of course, this theory isn’t mutually exclusive with George actually signing in Los Angeles. It could just get him better options to choose from this summer.

Surely, the Thunder are trying to parse all this noise. If their season doesn’t turn around, they should explore flipping George rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer. But they should also be wary that he’ll bolt for Los Angeles at first opportunity just because rival executives predict it.