Wolves Rumors: Interest in Kendall Marshall?

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Darren Wolfson of KSTP and ESPN 1500 Twin Cities is reporting that the Wolves have, at the very least, had “dialogue” regarding free agent point guard Kendall Marshall and are “on the lookout”.

Not exactly smoke, per se, but it’s certainly something that we should address, especially in light of Flip Saunders’ off-season-long wavering on the idea of adding another point guard to the roster.

Let’s first address the need. I agree with Saunders that he should add another point guard to the roster. As of right now, Ricky Rubio is the only true point guard with NBA experience with a guaranteed contract. The backup is Tyus Jones, who is a late first-round rookie and while he certainly profiles as a solid number-two point guard, it’s impossible to predict how he’ll perform from Day One once the regular season begins. And if Summer League is any indication at all, it certainly seems possible that he’ll struggle a bit.

The third guard as of now is Zach LaVine, who actually did play 94% of his minutes at the point guard spot as a rookie. Of course, he isn’t a point guard, he’s a two-guard. While LaVine struggled mightily to initiate the offense, he was legitimately solid when playing off the ball, whether with Rubio or Lorenzo Brown.

And speaking of Brown, he is likely the answer to the puzzle. (Yes, it’s a pretty easy and relatively boring answer.) Brown was good when given significant minutes last season and was the most consistent player on this year’s Summer League entry. He’s a good defender and an outstanding passer, and he seems to be beginning to answer some of the questions regarding his jump shot.

He’s also cheap and on a non-guaranteed contract. And don’t undersell the fact that he would likely be just fine with playing a third point guard role — he would rather be on the bench in Minnesota than playing heavy minutes in Delaware, Springfield, or Grand Rapids. Marshall, on the other hand, would profile more as a primary backup, and that may not be a reality if Jones impresses from the start. The former Duke Blue Devil is the new first-round pick, of course.

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As for Marshall the player, he would be a fine third point guard. He’d even be a decent primary backup — likely not much worse than Mo Williams last season or J.J. Barea two years ago. In parts of three seasons with Phoenix, the Lakers, and Milwaukee, Marshall has shot 37.7% from beyond the arc, including 39.7% in 224 attempts since his rookie year.

He’s a bad defender but a mostly willing passer and a good enough scorer to give the bench some punch, and he actually played most of his minutes at shooting guard in Milwaukee so he’d be an option there, too. His season did end early due to a torn ACL, however, meaning that he won’t be at full speed by the fall.

In other words, if the Wolves hadn’t drafted Tyus Jones and Lorenzo Brown wasn’t mostly still in the fold, this wouldn’t be the worst signing. But as we stand today, a Marshall signing would seem unnecessary at best and confusing (mixed messages to the players and salary allocation) at worst.

Again, this seems to be pretty unlikely to happen, especially with the strong possibility that there are other teams with more open minutes on their roster (read: without a $56 million starter and a rookie first-round pick as the current backup) than the Wolves.

Don’t expect Marshall to be in a Wolves uniform this fall but if it does happen, feel free to be confused. You won’t be the only one.

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