How the Kendall Marshall pick impacts Steve Nash’s free agency


PHOENIX — During the opening statements of both his press briefings tonight, Suns GM Lance Blanks made it a point to urge the assembled media not to read into the Suns’ selection of the best pure point guard in the draft as an indictment of how they will handle the Steve Nash situation.

I buy that 100 percent. I do not feel the Suns will be any less inclined to pursue Nash now that they have his replacement Kendall Marshall raring to go, yet it would be negligent not to discuss the implications of this pick on Nash and the future of the Suns’ hallowed point guard position.

“I certainly can’t predict the future, but it has absolutely nothing to do with his status with this organization,” Blanks said, speaking about Nash. “We very well could have picked someone at a different position based on our board. Our position was based on the information that we have tonight, and what our needs are, which is basically at every position.

“I say that because we didn’t make the playoffs, so we have to look at ways to get better everywhere, and this was an opportunity no matter what happens in free agency. We felt he was the right guy for this organization at this time.”

However, if the Suns wanted to do everything possible to retain Nash (which should never have been a priority over making the right moves for the future), they would have selected the best available wing scorer rather than his eventual replacement, especially with a capable backup point guard under club control (Bassy) and another whose restricted rights they hold (Brooks).

As much as Nash enjoys the mentorship role, I don’t think this was the kind of improvement he was talking about to compel him to return.

On the flip side, the Suns are now covered in case Nash does move on. Instead of either being forced to endure Bassy or AB as their starting point guard (I’m not sold on either as a starting one in a league with so many good point guards) or overpaying in free agency, they now have long-term solutions at the two most important positions on the floor, the one and the five.

This pick also figures to take them out of the bidding for Goran Dragic (doubtful they would have won anyway) and seems to indicate the Suns will continue playing a fast-paced style predicated on the pick-and-roll even after Two Time moves on.

Marshall said, “I feel like some of the things I do will go hand in hand with what Phoenix likes to do with a lot of pick and rolls, decision making is one of my best attributes so I can be successful there as well as getting up and down the court. That’s true also for what we did at Carolina.”

Added UNC head coach Roy Williams, “I’ve never had a better passer. He can push the pace. If they want to keep playing like that, they got the right guy.”

By selecting Marshall apparently they do. Obviously Nash is one of the best shooters of all time whereas Marshall shot worse than 45 percent as a collegian, but in terms of style the transition should be relatively seamless.

Nash is the big question mark at the point guard spot, but it will also be interesting to see what happens with Telfair and Brooks after this pick.

Telfair’s $1.57 mil contract becomes fully guaranteed if he isn’t waived by Sunday ($550K is guaranteed regardless). He played well enough to be kept as trade bait if nothing else. Brooks was extended a $3 million qualifying offer, but it’s hard to see the Suns offering him anything long term at this point.

A Suns kind of guy

Traditionally the Suns’ franchise has been known for jettisoning knuckleheads and filling out a roster full of genuinely good guys. The new front office is attempting to establish exactly that kind of culture, and Marshall thus was an ideal high character fit.

Moreover, Blanks feels like Marshall wanted to become a member of the Phoenix Suns more than any other player in this draft, and he said that was the case last year with Markieff Morris as well.

Suns PBO Lon Babby compared the situation to taking his kids on their college visits when “sooner or later your arrive on the campus of some school and suddenly your child looks like they belong and they fit in as they walk through the halls, as they walk through the buildings and you just immediately know they’re in the right place. That was the feeling I think we had about Kendall when he was here, and that was the feeling I think he had about us. That’s a very, very important thing for us. That’s part of what we’re trying to do in building a culture.”

Babby went so far as to say Marshall is “in the mold” of the kind of player he represented for 20 years, rattling off the names of high-character players such as Grant Hill, Shane Battier, Tim Duncan and Ray Allen.

“If the quality of his play matches the quality of the character, we have a wonderful player,” Babby said. “We have to do what we say, which is to begin to build through the draft and also have players who reflect well on the organization, ownership and community. That I know will occur without hesitation as it relates to this young man. I’m proud of what he represents.”

Marshall felt that synergy as well, saying he developed the most chemistry and had the best visit with the Suns.

Considering how important it seemed to be to the front office that Marshall genuinely wants to be in Phoenix, it would seem to me that a player like Terrence Ross — who declined to work out in the Valley — would not have been seriously considered if available.

I do wonder whether the Suns would have passed on Marshall had Jeremy Lamb not been snatched up by the Houston Rockets one selection earlier.

Lamb would have fit a huge need and would have been a better pick in terms of pure talent, but I just did not see him as a “Phoenix Suns” type of player. In Marshall, on the other hand, the Suns may have their leader for the next decade, the exact kind of player the front office seems to want to build with.

With Lamb off the board, I felt Marshall was the obvious choice, but we will never know if the Suns still would have sided with the superb organizational fit in Marshall if a player with the talent of Lamb were available.

And 1

  • Blanks on what really stood out about Marshall: “I think it’s obvious but doesn’t get talked about is the best measurement for me for Kendall is he’s a winner. I don’t think you can talk about that enough because winning to this young man matters. The one thing that rang true for me is this is a winner. The other thing that will be underrated is he is special in every way, the way he handles himself, he is a class act on and off the basketball court, and I don’t think you can weigh that too much in this day and age with some of the challenges that coaches have and teams have with potential dysfunction. This is a young man that will be able to right the ship in difficult times.”
  • Blanks said the Suns tried to acquire another pick throughout the remainder of the draft but would have had to offer up too much to get back the selection.
  • Marshall (KButter5) tweeted “I can’t believe this… I’m in the NBA” and “Excited to be apart of the @PhoenixSuns! ?#PassFir5t?.”
  • Channing Frye tweeted that he loved the pick and Suns such as Jared Dudley and Josh Childress welcomed the UNC product to the Valley.

Tags: Kendall Marshall Steve Nash

  • Ty-Sun

    I’m satisfied although not thrilled with adding Marshall. It does fill a big need but doesn’t fill the big need of a scorer. Hopefully the Suns will still be able to convince Nash to stay. At his age perhaps lessening Steve’s load (and minutes on the floor) will figure into his decision to stay or go.

  • Elviro (Italy)

    as I wrote the other post: “I hope that you have made ??a good choice as with Morris”, add: “Considering the situation of Nash, I think that Marshall has also become the logical choice”! I sincerely hope that another choice is number 13 of which speak well for the next year! The reconstruction will be long and hard.
    Nash would understand if he decides to go to Miami to win the ring, maybe this choice will help us to get to the bottom of the league and make a very good choice next year (hoping that there is some young star to take in the valley).
    A question: “But the famous salary cap space to do what you want?? We are able to take someone to the functional reconstruction of the team? Or we will be with nothing in hand into the next season? Updated me because here in Italy is difficult follow the market … but as soon as I’ll definitely jump on this blog to see the latest from the valley “!
    Hello everyone and go Suns!

  • Lloyd I. Cadle

    I really like the pick. Along with Morris last year, two solid picks.

  • steve

    If effort is a product of his high character, I’ll be satisfied. Personally, when it comes to being a sports fan, the thing I want more than anything else in the guys I root for is competitive fire. I know a lot of people are the same way. It’s part of the reason we root for guys like Sweet Lou. Kieff showed flashes of both sides of the coin last season, but I think he’s got the “effort gene” in him. Those two guys aren’t going to be Nash/Amare 2.0, but they could be the building blocks (along with Gortat) to a Suns team that can finally contend. One legitimate SUPERstar (think Wade, Kobe, LeBron, young KG, young Duncan, etc), and this team would be contending. One legitimate star, and this team will be in the playoffs year after year.

    Now we just need to find that guy….

  • Matt

    @Mike Schmitz
    Mike, since we picked Kendall Marshall that basically is a sign that we’ll go into a full rebuilding mode? Would that mean trading away guys like Frye & Gortat? So guys like Robin Lopez and Markieff Morris can get the minutes they need to develop?

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    I believe Frye would have been gone if his shoulder didn’t look like ground beef.

    I also don’t see them trading Gortat now. He’s the best center the franchise has had in …. uh…. since…. If they were going to trade him, they would have done it leading up to or on the night of the draft. I think the 1 and 5 spots are set moving forward.

    RoLo will test the waters. The Suns are not going to pick him over Gortat. He’s had plenty of seasons to become something worth more than a bucket of raw chicken. They put out that offer and they hope another team beats it.

    Morris will get more minutes with a proper off-season program and training camp especially with how 15-year-old-corpse bad Frye smelled this season.

  • Paul

    I fail to see how an unproven rookie point guard that apparently can’t defend or shoot in the nba is a better option than the other mediocre point guards the suns have available if Nash bails.

    Either way, if Nash bails, the suns are toast. The rest of the team is mediocre without Nash lifting their game and mediocre point guard play makes it all even worse.

    I think if there were any takers they’d ship Frye. I hope they end up holding on to Lopez because he has so much potential and it seems like he’s a few swift kicks in the ass away from actually playing at a level he’s capable of playing at.

  • Yohance

    @Matt

    While I agree that we need to find a way to
    get Lopez and Markieff more time to grow
    and develop. However, I do not think you can just
    give up and move both Frye and Gortat. I would only consider
    a trade like that if we were going to pick up a good player or two. Some examples would be Andre Iguodola, Pau Gasol, Josh Smith, Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay, Lamarcus Aldridge, etc.
    In my opinion the FO should now target players that would fit the style of play that the suns should persue. This being a run open style of play on offense but the ability to be gritty on defense. Need to go after Sixers AI in my opinion. He can focus on defending the other teams elite wings and also grab a knock down shooter like allen, reddick, ryan anderson, etc.

  • Scott

    In reference to the article, I’d like to point out that Nash was unlikely to come back to the Suns based on who they drafted. Even if the Suns drafted Davis or Robinson – two guys who could clearly help the team – you can’t get around the fact that they’re rookies, and Nash expects some veteran star power.

    @Paul -

    Rarely do we ever see a PG who shuts down other PGs and still keeps his own offense rolling.

    Marshall does play defense. He’s just not a defensive stopper.

  • http://www.nathansauser.com Nathan

    I think the only reason to re-sign Nash is to sell tickets. A 38 yr old point guard who wants a 3 yr deal probably isn’t a smart decision for a team that needs to admit they are rebuilding. Or us that the problem? They don’t realize this is a rebuilding process? Maybe Babby can spend more money on his former clients, are there more Childress’ around?

  • Ty-Sun

    Well the draft is over and no matter what our opinions are Marshall is coming to Phoenix. Now what matters is what free agents they sign and what trades they might possibly make. True there are no “stars” in the FA market that might be lured to the Suns but there are a lot of very good, solid players that would be upgrades for the Suns in several positions.

    The real question now is do the Suns let Steve go, fill out the roster with 1-year contract players and see how bad they can be next season or make a big play to keep Steve, reload with the best players they can get through FA/trades and hope they can at least be competitive. A third alternative makes me shudder… that they don’t really do either and wind up pretty much the same team that they were this year.

  • Tony

    @Steve,

    While I do agree that a oompetitive desire to win is essential for success, a team can go only so far with such a talentless roster that the Suns have. It would take at least two star players to make this Suns team a contending one and let’s be honest, how likely is it that they even manage to land one star player anytime soon?

    @Michael,

    I don’t know why you and several others are already claiming the Suns are set at pg for the future? To be fair, I am not well-informed about Marshall’s abillity, but from the reports I’ve read, he’s not a good shooter, he’s unathletic, and he can’t play defense. His NBA comparison is Andre Miller! My point is that I think it’s a bit of a stretch, to say the least, to believe that Marshall is going to be the pg of the future. As far as his passing is concerned, while he did average 9.8 assists per game, his team was loaded with talent. Now we’ll get to see how he plays surrounded by role players who are mostly unathletic.

    As far as Nash is concerned, I cannot see him resigning with the Suns, especially since the FO has so far made no effort to improve the talent of the team. Of course there is always free agency to look forward to, but again, the Suns FO has shown a remarkable degree of complacency in not aggressively trying to improve the roster. The fact that they didn’t buy another draft pick is just more evidence of the FO’s lack of willingness to do what’s necessary to build an elite team. I’m sure Nash is also aware of how little the FO has done to improve the roster and based upon the FO’s trend of incompetence, I would be genuinely shocked if Nash decided to resign with the Suns at this point.

    • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

      @Tony I guess you never truly know that you are set at a position, but when you draft one of the best pure point guards in years that’s got to be your mindset. You have to give the guy 2-3 years to learn and grow. If you didn’t believe he would be that guy you wouldn’t have drafted him. Of course, he could be a bust, but you could say that about most acquisitions. When the Suns signed J-Chill they thought they had their SF of the future after Hill and so far that hasn’t been the case. I don’t think Marshall will be a star, but I do like him as a point guard of the future if you can put talent around him.

      For the longest time I thought the Suns would be the favorites for Nash, but I’m starting to doubt that. Others teams are going to come after him hard and drafting a point guard likely isn’t the kind of improvement he wanted to see out of this team. It’s certainly not impossible, especially if the Suns reel in a big free agent, but it’s starting to feel like a new era of Suns basketball is upon us.

  • bk

    It isn’t bad at all on this pick. Ideally, he will be one of the assist leaders in the league. It can keep the team watchable even with a below average roster. What the team need now is a better draft position next few years.

  • Tony

    @Michael,

    thx for the quick reply.

    Like I previously said, I really don’t know enough about Marshall’s game to make an informed opinion as to his potential, so I may be entirely off-base. With that being said, his best asset is his floorvision and passing but his negatives outweigh his positives. He’s not the kind of freak athlete that Rondo is to be effective if he can’t shoot, which is one of the big downsides to his game.
    Your point about surrounding him with talent is critical. There’s no indication that the dummies in the FO will adequately address the lack of talent issue with the roster. As such, Marshall is likely to be faced with an overwhelming position, especially for a rookie. I can easily foresee another Dragic scenario in which Marshall takes the blame for not being an effective floor leader when in fact, it’s the players around him who are to be blamed. I know that since the new FO drafted him, they are likely to be more patient with him than they were with Dragic, but regardless, Dragic is far more athletic and talented than Marshall and if he had so much trouble playing for the Suns, I doubt Marshall will fare any better than Dragic and will likely be worse.

    From my perspective, it seems as if the FO has really disrespected Nash in not aggressively pursuing ways to immediately address the lack of roster talent. Remember last season when asked about resigning with the Suns, Nash said a prerequisite was that the FO improve the talent level on the roster. Since then, they didn’t pursue Boris Diaw who would have been a major help to push the Suns into the post-season and now, with their second chance, they failed to be assertive and purchase a 2nd draft pick. So it appears as if they are indirectly showing Nash the door through their omissions to improve the roster.

    I know you’re well aware of my views about the FO, but really Michael, can you objectively and honestly envision the Suns contending for a title while Sarver, Babby, and Blanks are running the show? In my opinion, the only way to rebuild this franchise into an elite one again will be through new ownership. I know it’s unlikely, but I’m still waiting for a VOTS writeup about the true culprits that have led to the Suns current predicament;)

  • sun also rises

    “I know it’s unlikely, but I’m still waiting for a VOTS writeup about the true culprits that have led to the Suns current predicament;)”

    Not one that would please your perverted fascination to the degree that your life size sarver blow-up doll does, Tbone. The vos crew actually have the ability to see things objectively which means you’ll be waiting until a cold day in Tempe before you see the kind of psycho ward manifesto that you’re drooling (and worse) for.

    And yeah you can play victim and go “awww boo manuel is picking on me again!” The season is over and its time to start training you to keep your chin dry again.
    ;)

  • Tony

    @sun also rises,

    you’re too funny. Point in fact, it’s you who most likely has a Sarver-blowup doll, since it’s you who continually defends him.

    I suppose losers such as yourself have limited ability to distinguish reality from fantasy, and as such, I expect you to be one of those dummies who has and will perpetually believe the FO when they say they really are committed to putting together an elite team. Maybe when the Suns have the bottom 3 record in the NBA next season you’ll finally get your head out of whatever loser fantasy world you currently occupy….I’m not betting on it, but you never know, anything’s possible.

  • thatdude

    @Tony
    You are so dead on!! Cant the rest of you see that this FO is running this team into a 3 year playoff drought and 4 of the past 5 years!! I predict we might make the playoffs in 2015. Lets hope they get a top 5 pick next year. No big time FA is coming here because none will be pursued by these morons ruinning the Phx Suns. A lot of u on here are super high on optimism and ur hardcore fans so its understandable but Sarver ruined the Suns and the attendance will show in the next 3 years. A wing and a prayer is not gonna make us a contender guys and they been wingin and praying a lot lately….

  • Tony

    @thatdude,

    I couldn’t agree more with your comments. This Suns franchise is headed for perpetual losing seasons until the Three Stooges are gone. In 2004, Sarver inherited a team put together by Colangelo including a starting lineup of Nash, JJ, Marion, and Amare! Now, as of right now, the Suns starting lineup consists of Marshall, Dudley, likely Hill, Morris, and Gortat! You can’t find a worse starting five than that because there isn’t any.
    Furthermore, this notion that Marshall is the pg of the future, when the scouting reports on him consistently say he can’t shoot, can’t defend, and isn’t athletic, is even more baffling and borders on delusional. Yet, because he’s supposedly a smart player and has allegedly amazing passing skills, that his negatives will be counterbalanced by his positives. I don’t mean this as a criticism towards Marshall, because he will someday likely be solid second string pg, but as of right now, considering how bad the rest of the roster will likely be, he’s being set up to fail. Marshall’s skill set requires talented and athletic wing players, and playing alongside Dudley or Childress or Hill is not going to help him adjust to the NBA level.

    It’s just astonishing that dummies like Sun Also Loser are so sheepishly supportive of this FO, especially Sarver. It doesn’t make any rational sense. There is no evidence by which to believe Sarver has done anything positive for this franchise nor to believe he will do so in the future. Yet, the company line, that we have to just be patient and wait till next season, is enough encouragement for these yahoos.

  • thatdude

    No no I couldnt agree more wit YOU. With all due respect to Schwartz but you really buy into their BS that picking Marshall (instead of getting BETTER players as Nash rightfully expressed) means they will try to sign Nash!!!! They’ll make it out to the public that they tried their hardest to keep Nash but in reality they’ll make him leave. Dragic is so much better than this kid its not even worth discussing. PG of the future for a kid thats not athletic and cant shoot the damn ball???? Besides the Polish hammer, who will score buckets for him?? Kieff will be a solid player but hes no Amare. Luol Deng, Rajon Rondo, Manu Ginobili …. Do these names ring a bell lol? Oh yea it was real popular in those days to sell picks for a cool $3mil (i cant even remember who we traded Ginobili pick for) .. Fyi Aaron Brooks trade was just embarassing!!!!!!!

  • steve

    Somebody might be jerking their own chicken.

    Just a note, tony, the suns’ starting five was the best starting five in the nba by plus/minus last year. You thought they were terrible last year as well. To put it frankly, your opinion is baseless and worthless. Bring on the flame.

  • Tony

    @Steve,

    I was wondering what took you so long to bring an ignorant and baseless comment. The reason the Suns had the best starting five based on plus/minus is because the 2nd unit was just so bad. So why don’t you tell us all how good a shooter Childress is or that Shaq is one of the best shooters in he history of the NBA…. Bring it on dumbass!

    P.S. go and tell your boyfriend Sarver what an embarrasment he is to Suns true fans and the city of Phoenix.

  • thatdude

    Im disappointed @Steve but clearly another one of those Sarver lovers that will believe anything that comes out of his mouth .. Are u gonna tellme that Sarver DIDNT offer Kerr a decrease in pay too!! Thats a bunch of BS too huh?? Steve Nash made the starting five ‘competent’. Get ready for this franchise to be in the bottom 5 in attendance next year and start giving away luxury suites for FREE….

  • Mirza

    Some of u remember me and how big i was on my countryman Dragic . fyi thatdude is me posting so let the hating begin lol

  • steve

    Yeah, definitely jerkin his own chicken. Anyway, the starting five’s plus/minus has absolutely nothing to do with through performance of the bench. Do you know what plus/minus is?