The Sixers could use a point guard who can effectively get the ball into the post for guys like Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel. They have a few PGs on the roster — Tony Wroten, Isaiah Canaan, Pierre Jackson, Scottie Wilbekin, T.J. McConnell — but none are particularly thrilling.
Enter Kendall Marshall.
He’s not thrilling either — particularly his shooting or the fact he’s coming off an ACL surgery — but Philadelphia sees him as a better option and is about to sign him to a deal, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
Free-agent guard Kendall Marshall is finalizing a multiyear contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, league sources told Yahoo Sports….
Marshall has been rehabilitating a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Chapel Hill, N.C., over the past few months and worked out this past week for the 76ers in Philadelphia. Marshall is expected to return sometime in the first half of the upcoming season, league sources said.
The Sixers are still in the tanking/rebuilding/however-they-wish-to-define-it mode and so being patient to get a known quantity point guard until the second half of the season is not an issue.
Marshall is just 24 and could develop into a reliable point guard — he can dish the rock but has question marks just about everywhere elseAt least he can be a respectable trade chip for the Sixers, so the deal makes sense for them. Just don’t expect more wins because of it.
The Suns have been historically unfortunate to play the in the Western Conference, repeatedly posting good records and still missing the playoffs.
That frustration has been particularly felt the last two years.
Phoenix won 48 games – 10 more than the Hawks, who made the Eastern Conference playoffs – and missed the 2014 postseason. Last season, the Suns were 38-33 before seemingly accepting they would miss the playoffs in the loaded West. They slumped to a 39-43 finish – which was still better than the eighth-seeded Nets in the East.
So, merely reaching the playoffs this season would seem like a victory for Phoenix.
Suns guard Bledsoe, via ABC 15 Arizona:
We’re definitely trying to make a run at a playoff spot. We’re not trying to get the last spot, either. We’re trying to get a high spot.
I appreciate Bledsoe’s big goals, but it will be hard for Phoenix to top the Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Rockets and Thunder. Besting the Grizzlies and Pelicans will be no easy task, either.
Just making the playoffs would make the Suns’ season successful in my eyes.
More immediately, Phoenix must figure out what to do with Markieff Morris, who keeps insisting he’s not long for the Suns even though they reportedly don’t plan to trade him. He’s important on the court as their starting power forward, but he could also prove disruptive if brought to training camp. It’d be hard to make the playoffs without him, but maybe even harder with him.
Phoenix must find a way to make Bledsoe’s optimism, not Morris’ unhappiness, spread throughout the rest of the team.
If you thought there was a chance that Markieff Morris’ animosity towards the Suns would dissipate by training camp, think again. Weeks after going on the record to demand a trade, he reiterated his stance on his own Twitter account on Thursday evening:
There’s no ambiguity there at all. Unfortunately for Markieff, it’s not up to him. And if he really wants out of Phoenix, he’s doing as much as he can to destroy his chances of going to a favorable situation.
Morris has been unhappy since the Suns traded his twin brother Marcus to Detroit in July, claiming that they gave Phoenix a discount on their extensions (which totaled $52 million over four years between them) in the hopes that they’d be able to keep playing together. Does he have a right to be disappointed on a personal level at the way it shook out? Sure. But the Suns were under no obligation to keep the brothers together. GM Ryan McDonough made a trade that he thought gave the Suns a chance to get better — in other words, he was doing his job. This is a rough business, and those that survive it learn not to take trades personally.
Where this situation goes from here will be interesting, and it could get ugly. Morris has painted himself into a corner with his public comments about wanting to be traded. The Suns have no incentive to trade him just because he’s unhappy — he’s their starting power forward and he’s on a great contract, making just $8 million per year. His personal issues with management aside, they need him. They don’t have an in-house replacement who’s ready to step in. If they’re going to move him, they need to get equal value, and good luck getting any team to give up a worthwhile asset for someone who has (deservedly) developed a reputation around the league as a malcontent, to say nothing of the impending felony assault charges he and his brother both face.
If the Suns don’t trade him by training camp, he has to show up and do his job, whether he’s happy about it or not. He could decide to blow off camp, but that would be counterproductive: he could be suspended or fined, which would not only cost him money but further torpedo his trade value, which is already basically nonexistent. His best option, if he wants out, is to be patient, show up to camp, don’t complain, play well, and hope that by the trade deadline he’s rehabilitated his value to the point where the Suns might get an offer they would actually take. In being so public about his desire to be traded and his unwillingness to play in Phoenix, he’s given them all the leverage and damaged his reputation, maybe irreparably.