Preview: Denver Nuggets vs. Phoenix Suns

Time: 6:00 p.m. MST

TV: Not on television



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The Phoenix Suns close out the preseason with a trip to Denver, the site of the embarrassing 118-98 loss that concluded their 25-57 season in 2012-13.

Goran Dragic will likely rest his sprained left ankle for a second consecutive night, but here are a few things to watch for as the Suns say goodbye to their exhibition slate Wednesday night against the Denver Nuggets.

Is the Kendall Marshall era coming to a close?

It might be hard to quantify Marshall’s time in the Valley as an era, after all the Suns’ 2012 first-round pick has played in only 48 career games. However, 48 games may be all the time he sees in purple, black and orange.

Phoenix currently has 18 players on its roster and must trim down to at least 15 before opening the season Oct. 30 against the Portland Trail Blazers. With several guaranteed contracts on the books this season, that number probably won’t dip below 14 or 15.

But if Tuesday’s DNP is any indication, it could be Marshall on the chopping block, rather than fellow point guards Ish Smith or Dionte Christmas.

It’s hard to believe head coach Jeff Hornacek would sit the former UNC standout two consecutive games given the potential opportunity for competition at hand, but if Marshall doesn’t suit up at the Pepsi Center, the writing might already be on the wall for his departure. It especially will say a lot of he is limited or doesn’t play with both Goran Dragic (ankle) and Eric Bledsoe (thigh) potentially limited themselves.

Has Markieff matured?

The game might not mean anything in the standings, but as far the Markieff Morris character study goes, Wednesday’s contest should be awfully revealing.

Morris was kicked out of the Suns’ 88-76 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder Tuesday after his elbow connected above the neck of Serge Ibaka, which by NBA rules results in an automatic Flagrant 2. The third-year pro’s absence didn’t have much of an effect on the game itself, but it will be interesting to see if it has anything lingering effect on the way Morris handles himself moving forward.

The timing of his ejection was awfully intriguing, given that just last week Morris stressed his desire to bring back a mean streak in 2013-14.

“For me, it’s just being more physical [this year],” Morris said. “That’s the only way I can affect the game on the defensive end. I just got to hit people. That’s just what I’m going to do. Someone tries to set a screen I’m running through it; ain’t no going around nothing. I’m going through everything.”

The question now, as least it pertains to Phoenix’s preseason finale in the Mile High City, is whether or not Morris is mature enough to harness that mean streak in light of Tuesday’s second half departure.

If he’s not, well, the Nuggets have three professional power forwards — Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur and J.J. Hickson — who will have no problem taking full advantage.

Going Green?

Jeff Hornacek appeared on Arizona Sports 620′s Doug & Wolf Tuesday and told the two radio hosts that of the five starting spots, the small forward position was still very much up for grabs.

And that was before Gerald Green went off for a team-high 15 points in a win over Oklahoma City, albeit from the shooting guard slot due to Dragic’s ankle injury.

P.J. Tucker makes arguably the most sense to open the season as the starting three, both from both a leadership and defensive standpoint. The 28-year-old is instant spark plug and has no problem guarding the opposing team’s best offensive player — a trait that no other player on the Suns’ roster really possesses.

With that said, Green, who was acquired in a trade with the Indiana Pacers back in late July, has looked impressive on more than a few occasions during the preseason and provides Phoenix with an offensive dynamic Tucker simply can’t bring to the table.

Wednesday’s lineup might not be all that indicative of the one Hornacek trots out on Opening Night — especially given Dragic’s expected absence — however could one final performance in Denver tip the scales in Green’s favor?


  • east coast

    What would be done with Marshall, assuming he’s not one of the fifteen? Cut outright? D league? Traded for a 2nd rounder (though this would have been done long ago, one would think, if it were possible)? Fake injury?

  • Ty-Sun

    Green has been playing well but so has Tucker. Frye had another good game last night as did Bledsoe. Goodwin did well except for going 0-4 from the 3-pt line. Markieff scored no points but did grab 5 rebs in only 13 mins. This is a weird team that’s hard to figure out.

    Bledsoe and Dragic should be able to coexist in the backcourt for a while but I think that eventually one of them will have to be traded. I’d prefer that the Suns keep Dragic but it could be either of them. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of them traded before the deadline.

    After last night, I would be very surprised if the Suns pick up Marshall’s option before the deadline. With Dragic out, Marshall gets NO playing time… As I said in a previous post, not picking up Marshall’s option could make him easier to trade if the Suns don’t cut him outright.

    I know some people have said that the Suns shouldn’t try to make Goodwin into a point guard and I agree. But I also think that he has enough skill at that position that the Suns could use him as a 3rd PG if necessary which make Marshall even more expendable.

    I really don’t expect that by the end of the season the Suns’ team to be the same team that they will start the season with. By the trade deadline, some contending team will decide that they need Gortat to make a serious run and there will be a trade. Some other team will decide that they need a PG and either Bledsoe or Dragic will be gone. Other players will likely be included in those trades. I think that McD knows what he is doing and that the Suns will end the season better – for the future – than they start the season.

  • GoGoBots

    Cut him. Kendall Marshall is a scrub’s scrub.

  • hawki

    The crystal ball I just found in the closet says the Suns will be 8-22 on January 1st 2014.

    It also says I will have a hangover that day.

  • Ty-Sun

    The bowling ball I just found in the closet says that someone on the Suns will bowl a perfect game on January 1st 2014.

    I already have a hangover which is why I believe that my bowling ball is talking to me.

  • Scott

    You guys may laugh at this, but … maybe Marshall is being held out because they have a trade for him once he gets extended?

    One hopes!

  • EBJM

    I hope Markieff and Faried start against each other. After going 1-8 against the Lakers Pau Gasol, Faried will probally just kill Markieff and everyone will demand McD deal for the 6′-6″ Faried. Meanwhile it will show how bad Markieff is.

  • EBJM

    Nunally, Smith and Lee should get cut. Smith instead of Marshall only because he still might have some value by Jan.

    Kravtsov needs to stay since Gortat will probally be gone.

    Malcolm Lee has already had two surgeries on each knee and hip surgery. Sorry kid but you might consider going back to UCLA and finish your degree. Drafted by the Bulls, then to Wolves, Warriors and now Suns.

  • foreveris2long

    Gerald Green and Plumlee both had a real good game tonight. Bledsoe played well too. Green IMO should be the starter at the 3 spot but Tucker and Plumlee coming off the bench will compliment the team well. Markieff probably starts at the 4 spot because Plumlee will be the backup center and power forward. I think the Suns are set at the top 8 when you include Frye who will or should eventually be the starter at the 4 spot. The rookies will not get a lot of run early in the year.

    At least early Hawki you are right Goodwin will not play 20 minutes a night. Green has really played well in this offense.

  • EBJM

    I thought these writers were insiders? Faried didn’t play because of a supposed hamstring injury. Also Randolph wasn’t mentioned as one of the professional PFs in the article despite Shaw trying to work him in the rotation. Randoloph scored 15 and had 8 FT attempts. Wilson Chandler also DNP because of hamstring injury.

    That left Jordan Hamilton to start at SF. So our toughest defender, Tucker allowed their 3rd string SF to grab 5 boards in 17 minutes?

    Has Malcolm Lee already been let go? He not even in the boxscore as DNP.