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The man in the middle will be new. So, apparently, will Gary Payton's backcourt mate.

Paul Westphal, who replaced George Karl as Seattle SuperSonics' coach, probably will go with free agent addition Billy Owens as his starting shooting guard this season.

Westphal likes the 6-foot-9 Owens' size -- and versatility. Owens, signed along with former Sacramento teammate Olden Polynice after the NBA lockout, also can play small forward and point guard.

Owens is expected to make his starting debut Friday night when the Sonics open their season at home against Dallas.

Westphal used what he called his "big" lineup -- Owens, Payton, Polynice, Detlef Schrempf and Vin Baker -- in Seattle's exhibition finale Saturday, a win versus Vancouver.

"With the big lineup, we have tough matchups at every position," Westphal said. "In the past, teams have tried to put the point guard on Hawk (6-3 Hersey Hawkins) and the big guard on Gary.

"If they try that with Billy, he'll punish them. You can't guard him with a point guard."

Camby in Knicks' doghouse

Marcus Camby is off to a shaky start with the New York Knicks. While Latrell Sprewell was swishing everything and turning a smattering of Madison Square Garden boos to cheers, Camby had no points, one rebound and three turnovers in 17 minutes.

Camby, acquired in exchange for Charles Oakley before the lockout, has gone from being a prospective starter to deep on the bench.

For now, Coach Jeff Van Gundy said, Camby will not be part of the Knicks' eight-man rotation.

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