Apparently, Michael Beasley will be in the starting lineup as most expected. But it won't come at small forward, barring a last-minute adjustment. Beasley's starting job will come at the expense of Heat veteran Udonis Haslem.
In other words, the future is now for the Miami Heat. At least as far as the power forward job is concerned. Haslem said he will be asked to come off the bench this season, a role he hasn't played since the end of his rookie season six years ago.
Beasley is in, as part of a lineup shakeup that will have Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade in the backcourt and Quentin Richardson and Beasley at the forward spots. Jermaine O'Neal will be at center.
"I've been the ultimate team player and I made the ultimate sacrifice throughout my career," Haslem said Tuesday as the Heat continued to prepare for Wednesday's season opener against New York. "This is just another situation where I've been asked to do it again. I didn't make that call, so that's nothing I'm going to worry about."
Spoelstra still hasn't fessed up about his starting lineup. He refused to do so again Tuesday. Richardson has started four games during the preseason, including three at small forward. Beasley has split his time equally between the two forward spots.
Having said that, this still comes as a bit of a surprise. And I wouldn't be shocked if this lineup lasts all of about a week or two into the season. Having said that, Beasley has proved he should be a starter. The shocker comes in Quentin moving ahead of the field so quickly.
It appears to be a move made to bolster the perimeter defense at the expense of interior defense. Haslem is also dealing with a groin injury that has kept him off the court since Sunday. Perhaps the injury played a part. But it didn't sound like this was a short-term solution, considering the way Haslem spoke Tuesday.
He was polite. But he was also a bit agitated. If you saw this coming, go ahead and buy a Powerball ticket. This one was a bit more difficult to see from here, because of all of the talk about Heat culture and work ethic and defense and doing things the right way. Haslem was all of those things. But Beasley is the future - at least as far as the eye can see for now.
This is not to say Haslem can't thrive in a prominent role off the bench entering the final season of his contract. This is about truly seeing what Beasley can do. Can he be a superstar starting power forward in this league? It's the same thing, on a smaller level, that Pat Riley wants to see out of Mario Chalmers.
The difference is that Riley came right out over the summer and proclaimed Chalmers the starter and said he wouldn't bring in anyone to start ahead of him. We never heard such definitive talk about the Beasley plan. But the way this all played out, you'd have to believe this was the plan all along for both.
Haslem didn't necessarily do anything to lose his starting power forward job. Quentin Richardson wasn't over-the-top convincing during the preseason that he's the starter at small forward. Q-Rich has been solid. He can shoot, defend and make plays off the dribble. That skill set may have given him an overall advantage at this spot. Maybe there wasn't as much confidence in Beasley at small forward after all.
If this holds true, the Heat essentially chose Quentin Richardson over Udonis Haslem.
So here we are. Let's see where this goes. Let's see if Spoelstra and Riley have a change-up, too.