New Jersey Nets: Travis Outlaw On Verge Of Losing Starting Job
According to NorthJersey.com, the New Jersey Nets are going to make a change to their starting lineup for Thursday's game against the Dallas Mavericks.
It is believed that the man losing his job will be Travis Outlaw, who has been terribly inconsistent in his brief time with the team.
Over his last 10 games, Outlaw has been abysmal, shooting 34.3 percent from the field and 25 percent on threes while averaging just 9.5 PPG. His shot selection has also been bad as, despite his low three-point field goal percentage, he settles for long-range jumpers and does not make strong moves to the basket all too frequently.
His defense has also left much to be desired. Along with his poor rebounding numbers (3.3 RPG on the season), it is probably the main reason he could soon find himself on the bench.
Coach Avery Johnson would not give away more than saying there would be a shake up, but all signs point to rookie Damion James getting the starting nod.
Over the same 10 game stretch where Outlaw has struggled, James, when playing at least 15 minutes, has averaged 5.5 RPG and provides much better defensive effort.
In New Jersey's last game against Atlanta, James had his best performance as a pro, scoring 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting, grabbing six rebounds and showing much more resistance when defending Josh Smith than Outlaw.
If James does indeed get the starting nod, who should get the most minutes at the small forward spot?
Johnson reportedly raved about James after the game, and at the same time expressed displeasure with Outlaw.
James has had a bit of trouble getting his shot to drop early in the season, but in his senior year at Texas he shot over 50 percent from the field and scored 18 PPG. He also showed his ability to crash the boards, pulling down more than 10 RPG.
With Terrence Williams also returning to action Thursday, it's unclear what the rotation will be or who will get the most minutes, although this seems like the right move.
James has simply out-worked and out-hustled Outlaw, the qualities Johnson is placing an emphasis on.
As a fan, I'm happy to see James get his shot and to see Outlaw getting moved to the bench. Outlaw has shown throughout his career that it's where he belongs and I've been calling for him to be relegated to back up status for some time now.
James also deserves a chance to prove himself with the way he's played recently.
As a person, I always feel somewhat bad whenever a guy gets demoted in this way, but as anyone who has tried out for a team can tell you, the world of sports is a cold one. Either you can produce or you can't, and if you're unable to there's always someone waiting to take your place.
Outlaw doesn't appear to be a bad person, he's just not getting it done.
Sending Williams to the D-League recently sent him a message and got him to clean up his act. Perhaps the same can happen for Outlaw.
If not, hopefully James and Williams can be the young sparks this team needs.
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