PHOENIX, Ariz. – No Kobe Bryant. No Steve Nash.
Phoenix Suns fans can cheer, or boo, Kendall Marshall.
The former lottery pick, whom the Suns selected 13th overall in the 2012 NBA Draft, made his return to US Airways Center Monday, as a member of the L.A. Lakers.
Marshall signed with the Lakers late last week because of injuries to Bryant and Nash as well as point guards Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar. He made his debut Saturday in a loss at Golden State.
“I had a blast,” he said of his six-minute stint that produced three points (a three-pointer, his only shot attempt) and four turnovers. “It was fun to be back out there. My team has really been helping me out. Obviously, we didn’t play as well as we wanted to the last game. I didn’t play as well as I wanted to start out with my team, but it’s a part of the process. I’m excited about it. I think we’ll continue to get better.”
Marshall’s stay in Phoenix was brief and uneventful.
Drafted by then-general manager Lance Blanks, Marshall never lived up to expectations, or at least the expectations that come from being a lottery pick. He averaged three points and three assists in 14.6 minutes in 48 games during his rookie campaign.
Marshall never made it to year two.
Five days before the start of the season, Marshall, buried on the depth chart behind Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic, Archie Goodwin and Ish Smith, was included in a five-player trade that sent Marcin Gortat to Washington.
“It’s a part of the business,” Marshall said following shootaround. “There’s no hard feelings whatsoever. I’m thankful for Phoenix for giving me the opportunity to play in this league. I’ll always be, like I said, thankful for them for that.
“At the end of the day, I’m still 22 years old. I still have a lot of basketball left in me,” he continued. “This is one chapter of my life that I wouldn’t trade for the world. The way it went — obviously I wished it went a little different, but you learn from it; you continue to get better and it helps you for the future.”
Marshall, who admitted he had “no idea” a trade was coming, never made it to Washington. The Wizards waived him hours after the trade.
Before the Lakers called, Marshall was playing in the NBA Development League, averaging 19.4 points and 9.6 assists in seven games with the Delaware 87ers.
“I think I kind of got some joy back, going down there and playing for a couple of weeks,” he said, before adding, “I’ve always been humble. It made me appreciate the situation and understanding that, at the end of the day, basketball is still a privilege and I get to do it for a living. I still don’t think it’s a bad thing at all.”
Still adjusting to his new surroundings, Marshall may not see much time, if any, against his former team.
“It’s been crazy. It’s been a whirlwind in the past week,” he said, and then smiled, “Of course, I really want this one.”