Notes: Kendall Marshall on the Suns' chopping block

It’s official. Kendall Marshall is on the chopping block.

Paul Coro reported from Phoenix Suns practice that the second-year point guard is fighting Ish Smith for his job.

Marshall didn’t play in the Suns’ final two preseason games. Smith played in a brief backup role to starting point guard Eric Bledsoe Tuesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder but he also sat out in the preseason finale at Denver.

That bit of news means the Suns could take a few days to sort out the final cuts.

Markieff Morris’ suspension-resulting elbow

An NBA review of Markieff Morris’ elbow to Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka’s face has led to a one-game suspension for the Phoenix Suns forward. A video replay, which can be viewed here, shows Morris’ elbow going high while he fought for positioning on a free throw.

As reported following the game, Suns coach Jeff Hornacek hadn’t seen the play carefully enough to judge his third-year forward, but he did express an opinion about the lowest dash on the free throw box being too far underneath the basket.

“I think the most of us think, the size of these guys, it’s a disadvantage to being in that bottom spot,” Hornacek said. “Any miss is going to bounce where that second guy actually has the advantage. So we’re telling those guys, ‘You got to box out. You got to go into those guys.’ They got to hit them hard to get them away from that spot. Until they move that line up, you’re going to get a lot of that.”

It didn’t help that Morris had struggled in the first half of the Tuesday night game. He grabbed no rebounds but seemed set on righting the ship coming out of the third quarter gates. Morris grabbed five rebounds before making a play that, while obviously against the rules — the NBA has been very strict about above-the-shoulder hits — didn’t appear to be intentional.

Sports Illustrated asks a scout to scout the Suns

In the movie Moneyball, Brad Pitt’s Billy Beane character rubs his Oakland A scouts the wrong way because his analytics don’t match their eye tests. Sports Illustrated asked a rival scout to write up a preview of the Suns, and like the movie there are some obvious points, some interesting thoughts and also some clues that, well, numbers are important to note.

The obvious — There’s a lot of stuff in there that we know. Archie Goodwin is thin, the Dragic-Bledsoe pairing is intriguing but might work, and we don’t know if Bledsoe is a point guard yet.

The interesting thoughts — The anonymous scout has an opinion of Marcin Gortat that many don’t.

Marcin Gortat is their starting center, but I view him as a backup. Against a legit center, he is going to struggle. He has a couple of moves on the block and he can run the floor. He can finish off pick-and-rolls. He is more an offensive center who puts up good numbers on a bad team.

Additionally, it’s clear the Lance Blanks era wasn’t going well when the reason he drafted Markieff Morris is the same reason Markieff Morris is not much more than an inefficient shooter.

In the frontcourt, the Morris brothers, Marcus and Markieff, are just space-the-floor power forwards. Markieff is a better rebounder. Neither one is going to make an impact defensively.

The uneducated — The scout describes Kendall Marshall’s game well, but he writes one less-than-accurate bit.

Kendall Marshall was a first-round pick in 2012, under a different general manager, and he barely played as a rookie.

For the record, Marshall played 702 minutes. New Suns forward Miles Plumlee, in contrast, played 55 minutes all of his rookie year. But to the scout’s point, Marshall did only earn 14 trips to the foul stripe in those 702 minutes, which alludes to his inability to create off the dribble. And yeah, we know he can’t shoot.

ESPN’s 5-on-5 preview of the Suns

Over at the mothership, we went five-on-five to discuss the Suns season. I picked the Suns to win somewhere around 25 games, which actually felt more optimistic than the rest of the participants’ picks.

I think the most interesting part was the request that we all make a bold prediction. The other contributors guessed that Eric Bledsoe would average more than three steals per game, the Suns would be fun to watch (So. There’s. That.) and Marcin Gortat would either be traded or the Suns would wish they had traded him. Mine, which is much more minor but also sort of bold (I think):

Boldness is relative in Phoenix. One Phoenix player from the past two draft classes will make the 2013 Rising Stars Challenge, and it won’t be either of the team’s lottery picks. Either Archie Goodwin or Miles Plumlee gets invited rather than Alex Len or Kendall Marshall.

And 1

The Oklahoma City Thunder waived former Suns point guard Diante Garrett on Friday.

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