At Warriors media day on Monday, Chris Paul was asked the inevitable question about his starter status. It won't be the last time. This is going to be a story until the Warriors make it go away. Which, eventually, they will.
For now, Paul's spot in the starting lineup is safe. Draymond Green's ankle injury is expected to keep him out through the start of the season. When he comes back, there is just no way the Warriors can keep Paul, who has started every game of his NBA career, with the first five. The matchups don't make sense. Golden State is small enough as it is.
Closing could be a different story. But starting should be, and I suspect will be, so to speak, a non-starter once the Warriors are healthy. And Paul, at least with a microphone in front of him, sounds like he'll be fine with that.
Coming off the bench for an Olympic team filled with superstars isn't nearly the test of ego that coming off the bench for your regular NBA team is. But Paul is a pro. I can't imagine him not being OK with this when, eventually, it happens.
And again, it will happen. Sending Kevon Looney, one of the best rebounders in the league and a semi-fulcrum of the Warriors' offense, to the bench to start the 6-foot-6 Green at center would be insane, as would taking the size and defense that Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson provide out of the lineup to start a teeny-tiny backcourt with Paul and Stephen Curry.
Paul manning the non-Curry minutes and providing stability for the second unit is the most obvious, natural role he can play on this team. If he plays well, on and given night he could close games; playing Green as a small-ball center has yielded championship returns in the past, but it's not a sustainable play over the long haul.
So Paul will be starting on opening night. And for some time after that. But eventually Green will come back and Paul, almost certainly, will move into a reserve role for the first time in his career. I suppose I could be wrong about this. But I doubt it. It's the only decision that makes sense for the both Paul and the Warriors at this point in his career.