New Laker Kendall Marshall just happy to be here
Mike D’Antoni has spent most of this season blending together a bunch of young first-round draft picks whose best days seemingly were behind them.
Now he has another reclamation project.
Desperate for help at point guard, the Lakers signed Kendall Marshall on Friday.
NBA rookies are guaranteed a two-year contract if they’re drafted in the first round, but Marshall was done after one unremarkable season with the Phoenix Suns.
He was traded by the Suns to Washington in October as part of a larger deal and was promptly waived by the Wizards. He was playing for the Delaware 87ers of the NBA’s Development League until the Lakers came calling.
“It’s been a roller coaster,” Marshall said. “I’ve kind of seen some of the down sides of the league as well as some of the good sides. But I’m more aware now. I’m more grateful. Humbled by the opportunity.”
The 13th pick in the 2012 NBA draft was averaging 19.4 points and 9.6 assists for the 87ers. He received word of the Lakers’ interest while hanging around his hotel room in Texas. The 87ers were about to play the Austin Toros.
Marshall has watched numerous Lakers games this season because he knows several players.
“I love the way they play,” he said. “I think they’re a lot more enjoyable to watch this year. I have some friends that were already here playing, so being able to watch them and being able to see them excel, being that maybe it didn’t go as well the past couple years, it felt good for me to see that.”
What makes them so enjoyable to watch?
“They look like they really enjoy playing together,” he said. “Any team that plays together, you want to be a part of.”
Marshall played last season in Phoenix with Wesley Johnson. He was Xavier Henry’s teammate in AAU basketball and played against Ryan Kelly numerous times in college. Marshall went to North Carolina, Kelly to Duke.
All three Lakers point guards are injured (Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar) and Kobe Bryant will be out at least six weeks because of a fractured knee.
Henry started at point guard Friday, and Nick Young handled the ball a lot as well.
Henry and Young are among several former first-round picks who landed at the Lakers’ feet last summer, hoping to resurrect their young careers. The group also includes Johnson, Farmar and Shawne Williams.
Marshall averaged three points and three assists last season with Phoenix. He signed a two-year deal that was non-guaranteed.
“What he’ll bring is good ballhandling. He’s a very heady basketball player,” D’Antoni said. “He’s improved his shot.”
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