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.

Kings pick up option on G Ben McLemore

Ben McLemore, Rodney Hood
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.

General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.

McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.

Paul George reiterates “I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot”

Paul George

In the Pacers first exhibition game of the season Saturday against the Pelicans, Paul George started at the power forward spot and looked healthy — that should be the big takeaway. He also showed off his offensive game in the first quarter, eventually finishing the night with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting. He forced some shots in the second half and had some defensive challenges, but it was a solid outing for a first preseason game.

George did not see it that way, and that will end up being the big takeaway.

He complained about playing power forward during training camp and given the chance after this one game he did it again, as reported by Candace Buckner of the Indy Star.

“I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot,” George said after the Pacers’ 110-105 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, a game in which he started matched up against 6-foot-11 All-Star Anthony Davis.

“I don’t know if this is my position. We’ll sit and watch tape and I’m sure I’ll talk with coach (Frank Vogel). I’ll talk with Larry (Bird) as well to get both their inputs on how the first game went but…I’m still not comfortable with it regardless of the situation. It’s still something I have to adjust to or maybe not. Or maybe it’s something we can go away from.”

George sees himself as a wing, where he has played his entire career. He doesn’t like defending traditional fours, as a scorer he doesn’t like expending all that energy defending pick-and-rolls and banging with bigger bodies. He’s been clear about that.

He still needs to be open to the idea. How much time George gets at the four on any given night should depend on the matchup — and Anthony Davis is about as rough a matchup as he is going to see. Davis scored 18 points in 15 minutes, and the Pelicans controlled the paint against the small-ball Pacers. George had a hard time defending Davis — welcome to a rather large club, PG. That said, George scored 12 points in the first quarter mostly with Davis on him, he pulled the big out in space and got what he wanted.

Back to the matchups point, George will struggle defensively against the best fours in the game (most of whom are in the West). But what about the nights in the East when George would be matched up on Thaddeus Young from Brooklyn, Jared Sullinger (or David Lee, or whoever) from Boston, or Aaron Gordon with the Magic, or Carmelo Anthony with the Knicks when they play small? There are a lot of lineups the Pacers will see where George at the four makes sense.

The Pacers are transitioning from a plodding and defensive-minded squad to a more up-tempo style, and that’s going to take time— a lot more than one preseason game. However, if George is throwing cold water on the plan after this one effort, it might take a lot longer and be a lot bumpier to make that transition than we pictured.