Amid rumblings of a rift between power forward Kenneth Faried and new head coach Brian Shaw, the Denver Nuggets have released this bit of information in advance of their season opener on Wednesday.
With Kenneth Faried just returning from hamstring strain, #Nuggets coach Brian Shaw leaning toward starting J.J. Hickson Wednesday.
— Denver Nuggets (@denvernuggets) October 28, 2013
On the surface, this appears to be a just a case of being cautious with a player returning from injury, but there is a lot more smoke around the situation. First, there were multiple reports earlier in the month that Denver could be placing Faried on the trading block, and then, there was the increasingly loud whispers that Brian Shaw desires a different kind of player in his front-court.
Faried is a monster rebounder (9.2 rebounds in 28.1 minutes per game last season) who everyone (including myself) loves, but there are fit concerns from a player personnel standpoint. JeVale McGee is the only thing resembling a rim protector for this year’s Nuggets, and Faried, despite his absurdly high energy level, is a below-average defender. Throw in the fact that Brian Shaw is rumored to want more of a “back to the basket” player than Faried, and this sudden need to deploy J.J. Hickson in the starting lineup is troubling.
It’s probably too early to move into full-on speculation mode, but if Denver wanted to keep the Faried talk to a minimum, this wasn’t the way to accomplish that.