Left without a natural point guard following a rash of injuries, the Los Angeles Lakers have come to terms on an agreement with former first-round pick Kendall Marshall, according to the team's official Twitter feed:
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the move, which the team has yet to confirm. Marshall, 22, has spent his season in the NBA Development League as a member of the Delaware 87ers. Terms of the agreement have not been released, though similar deals are typically for one season and carry a minimal (if any) guaranteed salary.
Initially planning to stand pat despite a depleted backcourt, the Lakers' plans unquestionably changed with Dec. 19's announcement that Kobe Bryant would miss at least the next six weeks with a fractured lateral tibial plateau in his left knee. Bryant's injury came just six games after he returned from a torn Achilles, and at a time when Los Angeles could ill-afford any other absences.
The Lakers' entire point-guard rotation of Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar is currently out with injury. Farmar is expected back within a week as he deals with a torn hamstring. Nash, who hasn't played since Nov. 10, was ruled out for at least another four weeks on Thursday. Blake will likely be out until February with an elbow ligament tear.
Stuck starting Xavier Henry at point guard for Friday night's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, it was obvious that a move would be necessary.
"It is what it is, I hate to use that cliche," D'Antoni said of his team's injury issues, per Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times. "We have enough guys here to win—that's another cliche. We're going to have close ranks—that's another cliche. I can throw them all at you."
D'Antoni will now hope that Marshall becomes the Lakers' latest lottery-bust reclamation project. Los Angeles has become a hotbed for discarded former top picks, with Henry, Wesley Johnson and Jordan Hill surprising many with their solid starts to the season.
Marshall might have been given up on quickest of all. Selected by the Phoenix Suns with the No. 13 pick in the 2012 draft, Marshall played in only 48 games last season as he struggled to find a place in Alvin Gentry's rotation. He averaged only three points and three assists per game while shooting just 37.1 percent.
In October, the Suns sent Marshall to the Washington Wizards as part of a five-player swap that landed Marcin Gortat in the nation's capital. Washington almost instantly released Marshall, whereupon he was unable to latch on with an NBA team.
Despite the setbacks, Marshall has been off to a stellar start in Delaware. He averaged 19.4 points and 9.6 assists over the first seven games of the season, often standing out as the 87ers' best player on the floor.
There were questions about Marshall's shooting ability and lateral quickness coming out of college, and those will still factor into whether he has a long-term future in Los Angeles.
But Marshall should acquit himself well in D'Antoni's system, which requires smarts over elite athleticism from primary ball-handlers. Phoenix drafted Marshall with the expectation that he'd become a pseudo-Nash under Gentry, whose offensive scheme has similarities to D'Antoni's.
Either way, the Lakers needed a body. Marshall is a serviceable body. Whether he pans out is probably secondary to a franchise scrambling to stay in the hunt at this point.
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