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Kings have wide open race for who starts at four next to Cousins

2015 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot

2015 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot

Getty Images

It could be the athletic but raw Willie Cauley-Stein.

Or if George Karl wants to go big Kosta Koufos.

Or he can go small and start Rudy Gay.

George Karl has options as Kings training camp opens in San Diego, but who ends up starting at the four next to DeMarcus Cousins remains up in the air. Karl said after the first day of camp he was just going to let things play out. Here is what Karl said, via James Ham of

“We have different looks, we have different types of big men,” Cousins said. “Willie’s a young athletic big man. We’ve go Kosta who’s a banger and I’m my specific kind of big man. I think we have different looks. I think it’s going to be good in the end...

“Kosta played pretty well,” Karl added. “He’s a better player than he was when I had him in Denver. My gut says I thought he played well with Cuz....

“I think everybody is going to get their opportunity,” Karl said. “I think everybody knows that I would like to play Rudy some at four. What’s our best team? I don’t know.”

I think there has been an expectation among fans that Cauley-Stein would get the starting spot, and he ultimately may, but talking to scouts at Summer League in Las Vegas they universally said he had a long way to go in understanding rotations and where to be in the NBA game. He has the athleticism to help cover some of those mental mistakes, but he’s going to learn some harsh lessons. Karl may not be willing to let him learn on the job.

That said, Koufos is more of a center who makes Cousins the four and moves him outside a little because the floor spacing would be poor (84 percent of Koufos’ shots last season came inside 10 feet). Meanwhile Gay fits the running style Karl prefers but in the West — where Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, Anthony Davis, Zach Randolph, Dirk Nowitzki, and other athletic bigs play the four — Gay could be a serious defensive liability.

Karl is going to run a lot of different looks out there in training camp and to start the season, and we’ll see who earns the spot.