In what signifies the Lakers’ desperation toward their depleting roster, Kendall Marshall could suit up in tonight’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center less than a day after the Lakers acquired him.
Marshall learned of the Lakers’ interest while staying in a hotel room Thursday in Texas where he getting ready to play for the Delaware 87ers of the NBA Developmental League against the Austin Toros. On Friday, Marshall arrived in time for morning shootaround where he introduced himself to teammates and learned basic sets regarding Mike D’Antoni’s system.
Still, Marshall said there’s “no question” he’ll be ready.
“For any basketball player, when they step on the court, they want to play,” Marshall said. “At the end of the day, it still boils down to playing basketball no matter what goes on outside the lines. When you step in between them, it’s five on five. I’m just going to make the most of this opportunity.”
Whether Marshall does remains to be seen.
The Phoenix Suns drafted Marshall with the 13th pick out of the 2012 NBA Draft, but he only averaged three points and three assists in 48 games last season. The Suns traded him as part of a larger deal in October to Washington, which immediately waived him. But with long-term injuries to Kobe Bryant (fractured left knee), Steve Nash (nerve issues in back), Steve Blake (torn ligament in right elbow) and Jordan Farmar (strained left hamstring), the Lakers signed Marshall to a nonguaranteed deal.
“It’s been a roller-coaster,” Marshall said. “I’ve kind of seen some of the down sides of the league as well as some of the good sides. But I’m more aware now. I’m more grateful. Humbled by the opportunity.”
The Lakers will start Xavier Henry at point guard, while Nick Young and Jodie Meeks will mostly share backup duties. D’Antoni held out the possibility Marshall would, too.
“We’ll see. We’ll definitely have to have someone in in case somebody comes up with a fluke [injury],” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “What he’ll bring is good ball-handling. He’s a very heady basketball player. He’s improved his shot.”
Marshall also has apparently paid close attention to the Lakers, cognizant the team’s persisting injuries could land him a roster spot.
“I love the way they play,” Marshall said. “I think they’re a lot more enjoyable to watch this year.”
“They’re playing great as a team,” Marshall said. “It looks like they really enjoy playing together. I’m excited about that. Any team that plays together, you want to be a part of.”
Marshall also added that he has friends on the current Lakers’ roster.
He played last season with Lakers forward Wesley Johnson in Phoenix. Marshall and Henry said they played AAU basketball together. Marshall, a North Carolina product, also matched up against Lakers rookie Ryan Kelly, who played at Duke.
“He’s a great point guard,” Henry said. “He’s a pass-first point guard and has really good court vision.”
That didn’t prove enough for Marshall so far in his NBA career.
“Part of it could’ve me. Part of it could’ve been the organization,” Marshall said. “Part of it could’ve been just the way basketball works. I can’t blame anybody for the way it happened. Obviously they’ll do what’s best for their organization as the Lakers will do for themselves. That’s all I’m going to worry about at this time.”
And with this possibly marking his big break, Marshall vows he’ll fight through the jitters.
“I won’t say it’s too much nervousness,” Marshall said. “At this point, I don’t have too much to lose. Obviously coming from Carolina, I know the legendary feel. You see it when you walk around, the logo and the guys on the team. It’s something I’m definitely excited about.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org