July 17, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA;   Kieff was doin' work tonight.

I expected the game to be a little more competitive than Sunday's laugher. It was, but only marginally, and this time lopsided in the favor of the bad guys.

After a sloppy first half in which Markieff Morris carried the team, Cleveland used a 33-17 third quarter to separate from the Suns. More impressive play from Morris allowed Phoenix to keep it respectable, even closing the gap with a mini run in the fourth quarter, but the Cavaliers made timely buckets and coasted to a 89-74 victory.

Kendall Marshall's debut directing the show for the Suns had mixed results, to put it in the kindest terms possible. His first game was marked by questionable decision making and errant passes. He seemed flustered and out of sync most of the night, throwing several disoriented balls where his teammates weren't. He'll get plenty of opportunities to improve upon this game (and it won't be hard). Despite a lackluster performance, Marshall still showed a few positive glimpses (more after the jump) and it was great to see him on the court as a Sun.

Player of the game: Markieff Morris scored 24 points to go along with 17 rebounds and 6 blocks. He was very active in this game. He did struggle from the field, going 7-21 overall and 2-14 after a 5-7 start. If you want to nitpick, he also had 6 fouls, but he was the most impressive player on the floor for either team tonight.

Comment of the night:

Scola who? Looks like we might have run n gun after all! #wheresthekieff

Quotable:

Kendall Marshall in response to how it felt to be out on the court at the point guard position tonight:

"It takes some adjustment. I know there's plenty I still need to learn and I'm looking forward to that. It's just a matter of getting better and learning from your mistakes every day."

Dan Majerle in response to Markieff Morris's game tonight:

"He played hard. I asked him to be a leader this year in the summer league and he's done that. He's taken this very seriously and it's shown in his game."

Check after the jump for full audio from interviews of Marshall and Majerle.

***UPDATE - EXCLUSIVE VIDEO FOOTAGE ADDED***

Additional game notes and analysis after the interregnum.

The Suns as a team didn't look nearly as fluid as they did on Sunday against New York. Some of that was probably due to the level of competition (the Knicks summer team sucks out loud). Some of it may have had to do with the floor marshal general.

Markieff Morris - A lot of my game notes were about Morris. He was everywhere tonight. His work on the glass (17 boards) was especially impressive. One of his 6 blocks was a chase down variety where he didn't quit on a Cleveland fast break. He also had a variety of spin moves that displayed his dexterity. Overall, he seems to be moving very well.

Morris did struggle from the field tonight. After a 5-7 start that was highlighted by a couple of trick shots from the perimeter, Morris labored to a 7-21 finish. If a couple of those hadn't fallen early it could have been an atrocious shooting performance. I didn't think he was receiving the ball in positions that fostered success on the offensive end. Morris still picked up six fouls, but I thought that more of them were on plays where he was attacking the ball than lazy pushes (like I felt after the first game). Solid overall effort.

Kendall Marshall - What I thought might be early jitters lingered for the duration of what turned out to be an inauspicious beginning for the newest Suns' summer league inauguration. Marshall was scoreless with 5 assists and 5 turnovers (I think they were lenient here because I counted more) in the game. He only attempted one field goal in just under 29 minutes and it was an airball (and it wasn't even close for an airball).

I don't know if discomposed or visibly shaken would be the best way to describe his performance, but he didn't seem like he could get in the flow of the game. His timing was disjointed; his internal clock ticking erratically. A positive takeaway was that Marshall always seemed to be looking down the court. Once he gets adjusted, I can see him being very effective at leading and pushing a fast break. He also had a nice penetration and kick in the fourth quarter that led to a wide open three by Marcus Landry.

Other Tidbits

DeShawn Sims was the second best player on the court for the Suns' summer league team tonight. He followed a 16 point performance against the Knicks with 12 points and 4 rebounds. Two of those baskets were on nice putbacks when he was lurking around the bucket.

Lob Babby joined the broadcast team for a few minutes in the second quarter and contributed some of his usual pearls of wisdom in his inimitably dulcet tone. Among the highlights: Babby mentioned moving forward is going to be a project. He talked about Scola's veteran leadership as an asset. Marshall - Great passer, high character, needs to improve his shooting. He talked about using the cap space for lopsided trades and amnesty waivers (like they just did) and also that (about the process of reshaping the team) they can't do it all in one off-season.

Audio

Check out exclusive audio from Dan Majerle and Kendall Marshall after tonight's game (Thanks Seth!)

Majerle postgame 071712

Marshall postgame 071712

Video

Kendall Marshall Debut At Suns Summer League (July 17, 2012) (via BrightSideSBN)



Tarheel bragging rights are on the line.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Don't worry, I wouldn't fool you twice.

When the Phoenix Suns (1-0) and Cleveland Cavaliers (1-1) face off tonight in the Las Vegas Summer league, Kendall Marshall will make his debut as a Phoenix Sun. Don't miss out on the inchoate stages of a Marshall/Morris two man game that has the potential to haunt the dreams of opposing fanbases for years to come.

The apparition of Marshall comes after a brief impediment, where he was forced to sit through the Suns' first summer league game (a thrashing of the Knicks) due to a delay in finalizing his contract. The ink is dry. The high-tops are laced up. It's go time.

Tip off is 5:30 p.m. AZ time. The game will be shown on NBA TV and will also be streamed online (for a modest fee) via the Summer League Broadband package. NBA.com is streaming live updated box scores for the statistically obsessed. They actually have quite the panoply of summer league scores and highlights, I suggest you take a peek.

Join in what is sure to be a festive game thread and make sure you bring it, because anything less than the best is a felony.

Jump it for even more reasons to tune in tonight (as if you need them).

The Suns' summer squad is coming off of a 99-74 win in a dominating performance against a hapless Knicks team. All of the starters made solid contributions with the exception of a shaky Garcia. It was a case of a balanced attack against an obviously overmatched opponent.

Markieff Morris led all players with 21 points and 9 rebounds. DeShawn Sims and Marcus Landry scored 16 and 12, respectively. Diante Garrett masterfully orchestrated the offense with 10 assists (which was one more than the entire Knicks team). Erving Walker even chipped in with 12 points off the bench. A full boxscore is available on nba.com

The Suns next opponent is the Cleveland Cavaliers, whose summer roster features several intriguing players. Tristan Thompson (#4 overall 2011 draft) provides "veteran" leadership, while Tyler Zeller (#17 overall 2012 draft) and Dion Waiters (#4 overall 2012 draft) headline the Cavs' rookies.

Zeller has averaged 16.5 points and 6 rebounds through two games. Waiters has reached double digits in scoring twice (10.5 avg.), but is shooting a paltry 7-25 from the field.

Look for a more competitive game this time around. Look for the matchup between Tarheel alumni. Look to see if Waiters can live up to his "promise". Look for Marshall to Morris.

Preview from the Cavs side of the horse including a look at an interesting power forward match up.


The sun has set on Grant Hill’s time in Phoenix. ESPNLA’s Ramona Shelburne has reported that Hill and the Los Angeles Clippers have agreed to a two-year deal. Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski was the...

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The sun has set on Grant Hill’s time in Phoenix. ESPNLA’s Ramona Shelburne has reported that Hill and the Los Angeles Clippers have agreed to a two-year deal. The salary terms of the contract are not...

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So far K-Butter is the only player to officially sign with the Suns this offseason. I think the purple tie suits him.

It has been a busy offseason for the Phoenix Suns so far. Players have come, players have gone, players have come and gone... It's been a wee bit crazy, to say the least. With all the signings, keeping up with the status of the Suns' salary cap space has not been easy.

That's why we're here. We've got your backs, Bright Siders.

When the offseason began, the Suns had seven players under contract for a total of roughly $32 million. The salary cap for the 2012-13 season is $58.044 million, which means Phoenix had about $26 million to spend on new players (not factoring in cap holds on free agents whose contracts expired on June 30).

Make the jump to see how that money was spent and how much is left.

The Suns began the offseason with 7 players under contract: Jared Dudley, Sebastian Telfair, Josh Childress, Hakim Warrick, Channing Frye, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat. 13 is the roster minimum, so the Suns had some work to do.

Point Guard

The Suns addressed their hole at point guard (in the wake of Steve Nash's exodus to LA) both in the draft and in free agency. Kendall Marshall was taken with the 13th pick in the NBA Draft, while Goran Dragic committed to the Suns as a free agent.

There was a delay in the signing of Marshall's contract which caused him to miss the Suns' first Summer League game in Vegas, but he has signed it (actually, he's the only player to officially sign with the Suns so far). According to SBN Arizona's Kris Habbas, Marshall should make approximately $1.6 million in his first year.

Goran Dragic agreed to a 4-year deal worth between $30 and $34 million depending on bonuses. The exact terms have not been released, but we're going to assume it starts at $7 million in the first year and goes up from there at 4.5% increases year over year.

The Suns renounced their rights to Aaron Brooks, which takes his $5 million cap hold off the books.

What we have at this moment: $1.6 million (Marshall) + $1.6 million (Telfair) + $854 thousand (Price cap hold) = $4 million

What we will have: $7 million (Dragic) + $1.6 million (Marshall) + $1.6 million (Telfair) = ~$10.2 million.

Wings

Jared Dudley and Josh Childress were the only two wing players under contract for next season, so this is obviously the position in most need of help.

The Suns signed RFA Eric Gordon to a max 4-year, $58 million offer sheet, but the Hornets matched. However, he has yet to take a physical with New Orleans, meaning the deal is not officially done. Until that happens, Gordon's contract counts on the Suns' books, meaning we have $13.7 million less to spend. However, it should be resolved in the next day or two.

The Suns also agreed to terms with forward Michael Beasley. Beasley's contract is reportedly for $18 million over three years. Again, the exact terms have not been released but like with Dragic we will assume it starts at $5.75 million and goes up from there.

To make room for some other moves, the Suns waived Josh Childress and used their amnesty clause on him. That means his $6.5 million for this season will not count against the Suns' cap, nor will the rest of his contract in future years (although Suns owner Robert Sarver will still pay Childress every penny of $21 million remaining, less any money he makes from another NBA team in that time).

What we have at this moment: $13.7 million (Gordon) + 4.3 million (Dudley) + $4.2 million (Shannon Brown cap hold) + $854 thousand (Redd cap hold) = $23.1 million

What we will have: $5.8 million (Beasley) + $4.3 million (Dudley) = ~$10.1 million

Big Men

Four of the Suns' five frontcourt players from the 2011-12 season are under contract for next year as Marcin Gortat, Channing Frye, Markieff Morris and Hakim Warrick are all set to return.

Backup C Robin Lopez is the only one not under contract. The Suns extended the $4 million qualifying offer to him which made him a restricted free agent and gave the Suns control over his future. However, extending the qualifying offer results in a $7.2 million cap hold against the Suns' cap until they either renounce his rights or he signs a contract.

The Suns' most recent move was claiming the amnestied Luis Scola off of waivers. The Suns' winning bid was $13.5 million over three years (only 440K guaranteed in year 3), with $4.1 million of that being forked over in 2012-13.

What we have at this moment: $7.3 million (Gortat) + $7.2 million (Lopez cap hold) + $6.4 million (Frye) + $4.1 (Scola) + $4 million (Warrick) + $2 million (Morris) = $31 million

What we will have: $7.3 million (Gortat) + $6.4 million (Frye) + $4.1 (Scola) + $4 million (Warrick) + 2 million (Morris) = $23.8 million.

Tying it all Together

Right now, if you include all the cap holds, the Suns are right at the cap. Yet they were able to make an amnesty claim on Scola, which is only available to teams under the cap. It is possible the Suns have renounced someone's cap hold without making a press release, but that's unknown at this time. Maybe cap holds don't count on amnesty bids.

Phoenix cannot do anything until Gordon passes his physical in New Orleans. This is one of the reasons Beasley and Dragic have not signed yet. To sign these new players, the Suns will have to get rid of the cap holds on Lopez ($7.2) and Brown ($4.2), not to mention Price and Redd ($0.9 million each) which are taking up about $13 million in cap space.

One way for these cap holds to be erased is if the Suns simply renounce the player's rights. Another is if the player signs a new contract, either with the Suns or another team.

Without the cap holds and with Beasley and Dragic signed, the Suns will have $44 million in salary for a 10-man roster of Dragic, Dudley, Beasley, Scola, Gortat, Marshall, Telfair, Morris, Frye and Warrick. That means the Suns have about $13 million to fill out the roster with.

Filling out the Roster

The Suns have to sign three more players, and the most glaring need is on the wing. Phoenix currently has only Beasley and Dudley at the SG and SF spots, so they need at least two more players there.

O.J. Mayo is off the table after signing with Dallas, and it appears as if Courtney Lee may be next on the list. The Suns aren't the only team that is interested in Lee though, and it may take a bit more money or a longer-term contract than the Suns would ideally like to give him. Yet the market is drying up, so Lee's price will have to drop. There is a chance the Suns do see him as a starter and rotation player moving forward and are willing to pay him, but I don't know how likely that is.

Another option is re-signing Brown and/or Redd to short-term deals. Shannon Brown probably isn't looking for a one-year deal again, but the Suns can afford to give him a little extra cash in order to maintain flexibility next season. Redd will probably agree to a one-year deal and would be a good fit as a veteran presence if he can continue to round back into shape and find his game.

Other free agents include Brandon Rush, Alonzo Gee and Terrence Williams. There really isn't much left on the shooting guard market. One of the players on the Summer League team (David Lighty?) could be signed as a cheap 13th man as well.

There is also still a chance the Suns aren't done with Robin Lopez.

Childress amnesty likely done to give Suns wiggle room to sign a player w/o rushing to deal with RLopez, who has $7M cap hold.

— John Hollinger (@johnhollinger) July 15, 2012

If Hollinger is right, it means the Suns haven't made up their mind yet on Lopez's future. The frontcourt already has 5 players, so there doesn't seem to be room for him. However, the Suns could re-sign him if they are considering trying to move one of the other bigs. Or perhaps they can try to sign-and-trade him to another team. Or they could simply let him go. At this point. it is hard to tell what the Suns are thinking regarding Lopez, who apparently hasn't received much attention from other teams.

What about Next Year?

The Suns currently have two players whose contracts expire after the 2012-13 season: Warrick (team option which should be declined) and Telfair. Those two combined will save the Suns roughly $5.6 million in cap space. The remaining eight players will cost about $40 million. Add in two first-round draft picks ($3 million total) and it's $43 million.

If the Suns finish off this year's roster with one-year deals, they could have around $15 million available to spend again next year if the cap stays level at $58.044 million. If the Suns sign a shooting guard to a multi-year deal, it will be a different story.


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