Warriors coach Mark Jackson said the change in the starting lineup at center is permanent – Ekpe Udoh is the starter. That is, “unless he completely falls off the map.”
Udoh will start his second consecutive game Monday night at Washington. That means Andris Biedrins, who started 90 percent of the games he’s played the last six seasons, is now a DubStitute. But Jackson said that doesn’t mean he’s giving up on Biedrins.
“He can rebound. He can defend. So I don’t think it’s a last straw,”Jackson said. “When you’re a big man who can do those things, you can help a team. We’re just trying to push buttons to get him to where he used to be.”
Biedrins is apparently taking the move in stride. Jackson said he had a good practice after learning he was demoted (which means Jackson made the decision after the Philadelphia game). Monday night before the game, he was joking when discussing the move.
“I’ve got a big chip on my shoulder,” Biedrins said with a smile. “You see it?”
Biedrins said some changes needed to be made since the Warriors have been losing. He said he didn’t mind when the coach told him he would come off the bench because he’s willing to do what it takes to the help the team.
Biedrins said while he understands the ire he receives, he does find it frustrating that his critics don’t see the whole picture – him sacrificing for the team, his helping the other guys, his keeping his emotions in check despite unfavorable playing time and results.
“You don’t see that stuff on the stat sheet, obviously,” Biedrins said. “I try to be a good teammate, as good as I can be in this situation. I will always be like this, good times or bad times.”
Jackson said he’s hoping the benching will light a fire under Biedrins, spark his competitive nature. But Biedrins, who said he plays well on the rare occasions he’s played mad, was not angry about the move.
“If coach punched me in my face or something,” he said with a laugh.
Biedrins said Udoh is “playing really well.” Unlike Biedrins, Udoh is expected to give the Warriors some offense at the center position – or at least the threat of offense.
Udoh said he’s more comfortable looking for his shot, especially taking his midrange jumper. But he said he doesn’t feel more pressure now that he’s the Warriors’ starting center.
“This is a good opportunity for me to come out and do what I do,” Ekpe said.
It seems Jackson’s hope is that this story isn’t over. Ideally, Biedrins would respond by stepping up his game, forcing Jackson to reconsider his starting center position.
Biedrins saw one silver lining to the matter, one reason he might do well playing with the second unit: he won’t have to play with David Lee.
“I had my best game when he wasn’t playing,” Biedrins said through a laugh, referencing his 28-point, 21-rebound performance atMemphison Nov. 26, 2010. “Maybe that’s it.