Either something was lost in translation, or Cheeks had a change of heart.
After naming Chauncey Billups the starter at shooting guard for the opener Tuesday morning, Cheeks was asked whether Rodney Stuckey and Caldwell-Pope would get opportunities.
“Probably Rodney will, but I don’t know if Kentavious will or not. I’m not sure,” Cheeks said. “I just don’t think he will be starting at this point. I reserve the right to change my mind, but as of this point, no. It would do him a disservice for me to say, ‘No, he’s not going to start,’ because he’s played as well as anybody in training camp.
“I’m a veteran’s coach. Guys that have been around get first crack at most things, but then they have to do the job.”
Billups started in a 91-69 win over Maccabi Haifa on Tuesday, and Stuckey and Caldwell-Pope came off the bench. The three combined to shoot 2-for-22, including 0-for-10 on 3-pointers.
Don’t read much into preseason games, especially ones against non-NBA teams. If you do, Kyle Singler (4-for-8, 1-for-3 on 3-pointers) jumps to the top of the conversation.
Singler would probably be a better choice than Stuckey, though. Stuckey can’t shoot from the perimeter, and with Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond starting in the frontcourt, the Pistons need perimeter shooting.
If Caldwell-Pope, the No. 9 pick in the draft, isn’t ready, Billups should get the nod. Cheeks can keep cycling through his preferred options, but if Stuckey is the last man standing, Detroit’s halfcourt offense could get pretty ugly.
Stuckey can still play a role off the bench, and his attacking style fits better with Detroit’s reserves. He might even be better than Billups and Caldwell-Pope right now, but fit matters, too. Hopefully for the Pistons, Cheeks realizes that at some point during the next seven preseason games.