Warriors coach Mark Jackson said he is "not committed either way" on who to start at small forward between Harrison Barnes and Brandon Rush.

Part of what is making his decision so tough is the versatility of Rush. But the fifth-year swingman, with his game and his attitude, has put Jackson in a situation where he can't lose either way.

"I owe it to him," Jackson said. "He busts his tail. He's a pro. He's done everything I've asked him to do. Whatever way I decide, I certainly will have a conversation with him. This is all about putting the best lineup, and the best fitting lineup, and putting guys in the best role to make us a successful team."

Jackson is trying to decide whether the rookie Barnes or Rush fits better in the starting lineup. He said either could easily be the starter and both will get significant minutes.

But Jackson has a special fondness for Rush. He called him his best perimeter defender. He said Rush is in the conversation for best shooters on the team, behind starting guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

Jackson also said Rush has proved he can get to the basket off the dribble, something the Warriors' starting lineup needs. Sounds like Rush is the no-brainer choice.

Except that it was Rush who won over Jackson with his play off the bench last season. Jackson has developed a hard-to-find trust with Rush as a reserve. He doesn't have to micromanage Rush, or worry about him trying to do too much.

Rush provides reliable offense off the bench, and he can also play shooting guard, which gives Jackson some flexibility with the second unit.

So, should Jackson put the most-ready small forward in the starting lineup? Or, on a roster full of question marks, should he keep one of the few constants he has in place?

"Either way, I'm good," Rush said. "It doesn't matter if I start or come off the bench."

Rush's disposition, Jackson said, is a bonus. In the NBA, starting is a badge of honor that players take seriously. Rush, who signed a two-year, $8 million contract, perhaps could have gotten more money if he had been a starter.

Still, Jackson said Rush -- who after signing his new deal said he wanted to win the starting small forward job -- has been a professional throughout this process. Barnes, the No. 7 overall pick and a potential star in the making, has started the past three preseason games.

Rush has come off the bench, and Jackson said he's been "very pleased" with Rush.

"He's a steal at the price we got him," Jackson said of Rush. "He's a heck of a basketball player, and he's going to have a big year for us."

The real question Jackson seems to be weighing is where Barnes fits best.

Although Jackson said Barnes has competed hard on defense, a learning curve is a unavoidable for a rookie defending some of the best talents in the league. Barnes might be better served on that end of the court by playing with Bogut, a noted defensive center.

Jackson is concerned whether the sixth man assignment -- which requires suddenly jumping into the action after sitting -- will be a comfortable fit for Barnes, who was a starter in high school and college.

Jackson doesn't have to worry about that with Rush. And he said he doesn't have to worry about Rush pouting.

"I've never had a problem with him. Ever," Jackson said.

Friday's game

Warriors at Portland, 7 p.m. NBATV