On Friday afternoon, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Utah Jazz agreed on a small two-player trade. In that deal, the Philadelphia Sixers sent Kendall Marshall to the Utah Jazz in exchange for center Tibor Pleiss and two future second-round picks. However, the deal was more of a salary dump for the Utah Jazz, as they waived Marshall less than a half-hour after announcing that initial trade.
Marshall’s brief 25 minute stint with the Jazz marked the 5th NBA squad that he’s been on since getting picked by the Suns in the 2012 Draft Just one year after that draft, Marshall was traded to the Wizards in the deal that sent Marcin Gortat to Washington. However, the Wizards waived Marshall just a few days after that trade.
Following that Wizards release, Marshall decided to make his way to the NBADL in an attempt to rebuild his basketball image. That decision worked marvelously for Marshall as he just shined during his brief stint with the Delaware 87ers. In seven games, Marshall averaged 19.4 points, 9.6 assists and 1.9 steals per game on 42% from the field and 46% from beyond the arc. His stint with the 87ers included a tremendous performance against the RGV Vipers, where he put up 31 points, 9 rebounds and 10 assists on 11-18 from the field.
Due to that tremendous D-League play, Marshall got signed by the Los Angeles Lakers to help bring some much needed PG depth on that injury-ravaged roster. Marshall did more than just add some depth, as he actually stood as the Lakers starting PG for most of his time with the team. In the 35 games that Marshall started, he averaged 8.1 points and 9.5 assists per game on 39% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc.
Yet again, the Lakers would end up waiving Marshall after the 2013-14 season, despite his solid play with the team. Just a few days after being waived, Marshall was picked up by the Bucks to add depth to their young back-court. In the opening few weeks of the season, Marshall was doing a great job in that role. Although he wasn’t a starter, like during his stint with the Lakers, Marshall was doing a great job of working as the team’s 2nd unit facilitator, as he averaged 10.2 points and 7.4 assists per 36 minutes.
Just as Marshall was getting acquainted with that role with the Bucks, Marshall’s bad luck continued. In a January 15th game against the New York Knicks, Marshall tore his right ACL which ultimately cut his season short.
In an attempt to finally find a consistent role in the NBA, Marshall signed a four-year/$8 million deal with the Philadelphia 76ers. Although the last three years on that deal was not guaranteed, it seemed like a step in the right direction.
However, Marshall quickly got lost in the shuffle among the handful of point guards that the 76ers had on their roster. Throughout that season, Marshall struggled to find a consistent role on the team, as he spent a lot of team as a healthy scratch on the 76ers bench.
Although he’s quickly become a journeyman, this will be the first year where Marshall will probably enter the NBA season without being on a team. While there’s still plenty of time for an NBA team to add Marshall to their training camp roster, there might be a better option for the 6’4 guard: the NBA D-League.
Throughout the D-League’s history, there’s been numerous cases of former NBA players that used the NBADL to showcase their skills and ultimately return to the Association. Over the years, the likes of Danny Green, James Johnson, Gerald Green, Shelvin Mack and Garrett Temple were able to use the D-League as a stepping stone to return to the NBA and become solid role players. Marshall could definitely be the next player to join that list.
Let’s use James Johnson as an example. Like Marshall, Johnson was an NBA veteran that struggled to find a consistent role in the NBA. After four seasons of shuffling between three teams (Chicago, Toronto and Sacramento), Johnson took his talents to the D-League where he was drafted by the RGV Vipers. During a brief stint with the Vipers, Johnson absolutely thrived as he averaged 18.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game. That Vipers stint was enough to impress the Grizzlies who signed him to a deal.
Since then, Johnson has been an excellent role player in the NBA due to his sheer tenacity and ability to get to the paint whenever he wanted to. Although he really hasn’t improved or changed as a player since he was signed by the Grizzlies, you can’t really argue that his NBADL stint didn’t rejuvenate his NBA career.
Marshall could definitely follow in the footsteps of Johnson or any other D-League alum that has found NBA success. Like those players, Marshall is in the crossroads of his career where those past NBA opportunities seem like a thing of the past. However, Marshall could utilize the D-League to help rejuvenate a career that has been on the skids.
As we’ve seen in the past, whether it would be with the Lakers or the Delaware 87ers, Marshall can really shine when he has an opportunity. In those opportunities, Marshall showcased himself to be a solid facilitator with a pretty efficient perimeter jumper. If he translates those skills to the D-League, in similar way to his 87ers’ stint, then we could be seeing Marshall make another return to the NBA. Hopefully, this time that return is permanent.