Just how good is Kendall Marshall, and did the Wizards make a mistake in not finding a way to retain the point guard when they orchestrated a trade with the Phoenix Suns for Marcin Gortat?
The answer is about to be unveiled. Marshall, who was released along with Shannon Brown and Malcolm Lee, signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday. The Lakers are in dire need of help with injuries to guards Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Jordan Farmar and Steve Blake.
The Wizards wanted another center because Emeka Okafor had a disk injury in his neck and was out indefinitely. Okafor still hasn't played this season. Gortat is in the final year of his deal and the Suns opted to rebuild. Marshall and the others were throw-ins by Phoenix to make the salaries match with Okafor, who is due just less than $15 million for this season. The Wizards were already at the maximum 15 players with Gortat.
Backup guard play has been a problem area for the Wizards as Eric Maynor, who was given a two-year deal as a free agent in July at $4.1 million, has been a disappointment. Maynor hasn't gotten off the bench in three of the last four games.
Would Marshall have been a better option? The Wizards don't believe so. They didn't have to think long and hard about whether to waive Marshall. The moment the deal was consummated they were committed to doing that. But comparing him to Maynor, who was accomplished before coming to Washington most notably as a backup to Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, isn't exactly apples to apples. Marshall was acquired in a trade in October, three months after Maynor was signed to a guaranteed contract that has a player option for 2014-15. Maynor's NBA track record made him more worthy on paper.
What Marshall did in college is about as relevant as what Tim Tebow did there. A 2012 lottery pick for the Suns, Marshall was quickly discarded even though he was on a rookie scale contract -- meaning he was cheap labor. In 48 games last season, he averaged 3.0 points and shot 37%. Marshall has been playing in the D-League with the Delaware 87ers.
The Wizards also already had Garrett Temple, who has jumped Maynor in the rotation and at 6-6, is a better two-way player and running the offense as the point guard. Plus, Temple plays for the veteran minimum on a one-year deal that's a little less than $1 million.
It could be that Marshall is just one of those players who will take time to develop. Look at Shelvin Mack, who the Wizards drafted in the second round, cut, re-signed a year ago on a 10-day contract and released again. Now Mack is a serviceable point guard off the bench for the Atlanta Hawks.
Teams such as the Wizards, however, don't have time to wait. They're pushing to be a playoff team now. Marshall will get plenty experience with the Lakers. If he's not up to par, it'll be evident very soon.