As I said last night, I'm cutting the Eddie Jordan grace period off early. His rotations infuriate me, his comments have my systolic skyrocketing, his logic is anything but logical. I was unhappy when he took the job, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt. From this point forward I won't be hedging my criticisms with "give it time" or "yet" disclaimers. I've seen enough to form an informed opinion of his coaching style, skills and approach, now he's going to have to actually do something to change my mind. Tonight will be his first opportunity to surprise me.
I'm not going to go into a laundry list of what brought me here, I'm sure most of you have gone through the same progression, or you're in the process right now. I will say that last night's game coupled with the info in the infamous Stephen A. Smith Iverson rumor piece was the straw that broke the camel's back. Let's recap:
Team sources confirmed on Friday that Iverson would be a starter because Jordan had planned on starting Williams with rookie Jrue Holiday anyway, just to put some excitement and more ball-handlers into his Princeton-style offense. So even once Williams returns from injury, he'd be in the starting lineup with Iverson.
As much as it pains me to admit it, Smith has been dead-on with most of the reporting he did in this piece so far. Last night, Jordan went with 48 minutes of a small lineup, slid Iguodala to the three, Thad to the four and inserted Willie Green into the starting lineup at SG, and then had the temerity to give Green 38 minutes of PT. He was right about the Iverson rumor, and the team has admitted they're at least looking into it. Therefore, I have no reason to doubt other pieces of the article, notably this one:
Jordan is said to be incredibly frustrated with everything from Elton Brand's work ethic to Andre Iguodala's inability to make plays off the dribble. The one player he absolutely loves, guard Louie Williams, is out for eight weeks with a broken jaw.
Jordan apparently hates this roster, especially the key pieces and he's not shy about letting people know this. His three-hour chalk talk session that won him the job appears to have been little more than a moment of salesmanship at this point.
Tonight, against Dallas we might have a chance to witness the full depths of Jordan's depravity. Earlier today he said Elton Brand could've played last night, and would've played if it had not been the front end of a back-to-back. I'm taking that to mean Brand will be available when the team takes the floor at 8:30pm, unless he suffers some kind of physical setback between now and then.
This is the first test. With Brand at his disposal, will Jordan go back to the big starting lineup, or was he Brand injury simply the excuse he used to implement the small lineup on a larger scale, like he's been itching to do the entire season? Will Jordan abandon all pretense of caring about defense (and the future of the team) and tap Willie Green as the starter at PG, will he nominally start Jrue and then give Willie the lion's share of available minutes or will he give Jrue, the only thing even casually resembling an actual point guard, on both ends of the floor, 30 minutes?
Speaking of Jrue, was starting him when Lou Williams went down Jordan's idea, or was it a mandate from his boss? I'm leaning toward the latter and I also believe Jordan is simply biding his time until he can bury Jrue on the end of the bench again.
If Brand is back, Jordan has every opportunity to choose defense over offense. Sam Dalembert is playing some of the best ball of his career at the five. Brand was on a hot streak before the hammy injury, Jrue has been doing an excellent job of limiting penetration. If he uses the proper starting lineup, Thad is the only true defensive weak spot on the floor. I'm anxiously waiting to see what adjustments Jordan will make tonight, and I have to say, I'm fairly confident we won't see the lineup of Jrue, Iguodala, Thad, Brand and Dalembert very much, if at all. There's a 50/50 chance Jrue has seen his last start.
Since I'm obviously in a particularly prickly mood on this fine Monday morning, here's a poll to gauge the confidence people have in this team:
Have at it in the comments, the preview/game thread will be up late in the afternoon.