Marcus Thornton will come off the bench this season.

Marcus Thornton is getting the Ben Gordon treatment

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Marcus Thornton proved to be one of the most exciting scoring rookies last season. He’s a significant part of the Hornets’ hopes to rebuild themselves into a playoff team (and keep CP3 from bolting for greener pastures). So obviously they’re going to feature him prominently and have him lining up beside Chris Paul in the starting five, right? Not so much. The New Orleans Times Picayune reports the following from head coach Monty Williams:

“I like Marcus off the bench and he’s done a good job of buying into that,’’ Williams said. “I think he can be valuable to us with the firepower off the bench. You look at good teams around the league they got guys coming off the bench that can change the game. I told him it’s not who starts all the time, but if you can finish games is just as important.’’

Okay, then, not so much with the starting. Williams is right. This isn’t a reflection on Thornton, or if it is, it’s in the positive. Being the focal point of the offense off the bench can be more important than a fourth option in the starting five. A good comparison is Manu Ginobili. Ginobili plays long minutes and finishes games despite a traditional sixth man role. Thornton has an opportunity to provide a similar set of assets for the Hornets.

Hey, isn’t new GM Dell Demps coming from the Spurs system?

Small world.

Thornton has to be considered a top candidate for Sixth Man this year. The Hornets don’t have a ton of scoring options, and with Thornton averaging 20.3 points and over 4 rebounds per 36 minutes, and due for an increase in minutes, he’s going to be right at the top of the list. The real question is going to be if Marco Belinelli can make it as a starter. That’s quite a jump for a guy who’s never been put in that position for a contending team.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.

DeMarcus Cousins on Confederate statues: ‘Take all them motherf—ers down’

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DeMarcus Cousins grew up in Alabama, played collegiately at Kentucky and now plays in New Orleans.

So, yeah, the Pelicans star has an opinion on Confederate statues.

Cousins, via TMZ:

“Take all them motherf*ckers down,” Cousins said … “Take ’em all down.”

These statues glorify people because they fought a war against the United States in the name of preserving the racist institution of slavery.

Not whom I want to honor, either.