Morris dominated in every game.

Neither player made the published "all star" team announced yesterday before some of the winners even played their fifth game, and certainly they each had some struggles. It took rookie PG Kendall Marshall two dud games to make more than one shot, and Markieff Morris entered game 5 with a 37% shooting percentage over four games.

However, Kendall Marshall finished the week with more assists than any other summer league player (#1 at 6.5 per game) and Markieff Morris looked like the best big man on the court in all five games he played, finishing 10th in the league in points-per-game (19.8) and 2nd in rebounding (9.8).

Here are some kudos for each player this morning:

2012 NBA Summer League - All-Veteran Team | Scott Schroeder | SB Nation

Although this was the first summer league for most of these guys due to the lockout, Scott evaluated guys who played in the NBA last season. Morris was ranked as the #1 second-year PF in the circuit.

And now Marshall...

Ranking all 52 Rookies in NBA Summer League | Mike Prada | SB Nation

Marshall made the list of five 'developing' players who showed flashes but still have a long way to go. If he'd played the whole week like he ended it, he would have been nearer the top of the list of 52, per Prada.

I am hoping we can talk Omaha Sun into a more in-depth look at Morris and Marshall later in the week. For now, let's appreciate some love from non-Suns fans.


Back when the original Dream Team wore the uniforms Team USA donned today in Spain, opponents were so in awe of the American stars that some even snapped photographs from the bench. Now 20 years...

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PHOENIX — When you look at the composition of the Phoenix Suns’ roster, it seems obvious that Michael Beasley will be spending quite a bit of time at the small forward spot. After all, before...

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Markieff Morris played like NBA starter-material in summer league this past week.

After missing out on every early shooting-guard target (draft prospects Dion Waiters, Austin Rivers, Terrence Ross and Jeremy Lamb plus veterans Eric Gordon and O.J. Mayo), the Phoenix Suns implemented a safe fallback plan with a flexible two-year deal to Shannon Brown.

While Brown gets a reasonable $3.5 million for this season, what makes the deal a slam dunk is the structure in year two. The second year is under the Suns' control: keep Brown again at $3.5 million OR release him and have only $583,333 count against the cap in the next three years, thanks to the new "stretch" provision on released players. That's a great insurance policy right there.

After the Brown signing, the Suns have about $47 million committed to 2012-13, but only $42 million committed to the 2013-14 salary cap (before including draft picks). Warrick and Telfair come off the books, and as stated above Brown can count as little as half-million. That leaves at least $16 million to spend next summer on draft picks, amnesty claims, lop-sided trades or straight free-agent signings.

So it makes sense for the Suns to save their bullets. All the best free agents this summer are gone - at least, the ones deserving multi-year deals.

Now the Suns have a great deal of flexibility, this year AND next.

NBA teams are already feeling the pinch of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement - particularly the increasingly punitive costs of exceeding the luxury tax threshold ($70 million this year) that start ramping up a year from now. At that point, teams over the luxury tax are severely limited - inability to receive signed-and-traded players, smaller exceptions, increasingly higher luxury taxes and even a hard cap for those above the "apron" (four million over the luxury tax threshold).

The New York Knicks already declined to match offers to 23-year olds Jeremy Lin and Landry Fields and the Chicago Bulls just may do the same with Omer Asik, all because the third year of those deals would cost the tax-paying team as much as $45 million apiece in salary plus taxes in the third year!

That's just the trickle before the dam blows. Soon, many of the best NBA teams will be walking a tightrope between spending-to-contend and abandoning ship. Salary-dumping will happen. Under-the-cap teams like the Suns will get draft picks for taking on bad contracts, and some of those deals will include highly coveted players.

The Suns are in the driver's seat, as long as they maintain their patience. The Houston Rockets are staying as flexible as possible (to the extreme), and even the Dallas Mavericks are following the same model. Just like the Suns held onto Steve Nash as they turned over the roster around him, the Mavericks are swapping players all around Nowitzki.

The Suns, Rockets and Mavericks - and any teams like them - will struggle to win games as they wait for the big-spenders to start purging. Then it's an arms race to get the stars as they shake loose.

The Suns have 10 draft picks in the next three years. Even the second rounders are valuable, because a team taking on a salary in a one-sided trade has to give something back to make the trade legal and often that's a terrible draft pick.

The Suns also have some young prospects to send back to teams dumping their franchise player - Markieff Morris and Kendall Marshall (and maybe Robin Lopez?) all have talent that scouts like.

The Suns also have $8 million in expiring/non-guaranteed deals at the moment (Sebastian Telfair, Hakim Warrick and Shannon Brown), soon to be $11-12 million once the Suns sign a couple of fringe players to round out the roster.

Depending on the final roster, the Suns will likely also have $7-8 million unspent cap space, perfect for a trade partner who wants to lower their own cap number this year.

The Suns have good contracts - midlevel players on midlevel deals - who can produce on any team in the NBA for several years. In particular, Marcin Gortat, Goran Dragic and Luis Scola are all arguably more valuable than their contract.

And finally, the Suns owe nothing to nobody. After years of having to reconcile their heads with their hearts (Steve Nash, Grant Hill, Amare Stoudemire), the Suns can operate as a business from now on. Make trades when and where they are good for basketball reasons, without worry of community-wide repercussions.

So we can spend all summer projecting the win total of the 2011-12 Phoenix Suns, but that's secondary to rebuilding this team to a title contender.

The Suns need to get lucky.

As a wise person told me once: good luck is simply the intersection of preparation and opportunity. The Suns are preparing themselves. Let's hope they recognize the right opportunity when it presents itself.


Smooth like butter ...

The Phoenix Suns' summer league team not only got the win in tonight's finale, they played their best, most balanced game.

Markieff Morris put on a show tonight scoring 25 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Morris not only shot the ball more efficiently, going 10-17, he also made some really nice strong moves to the basket, showed great footwork in the post, and also made some very difficult shots over defenders that didn't look like they had a chance.

But the story of tonight's game belongs to Kendall Marshall. Marshall brought his A-game on offense tonight scoring 15 points off of some strong drives to the basket and also some threes. Marshall shot 6-10 from the field overall including 3-4 from downtown.

Not only that, but Marshall really showed his biggest strength with some great assists. He made some awesome go ahead passes to find teammates streaking down the floor to score at the other end...and we also saw more passes made after penetrating into the lane and finding the open man. Marshall finished with a summer league high 10 assists tonight to go along with his 15 points, 4 rebounds, and a team high +19 as well ... Atta boy K-Butter!

Continue reading after the jump for more on tonight's action ...

As for the rest of the Summer Suns, they did ok too. Garcia scored 12 points off 3-4 shooting, Landry scored 15 points off 5-10 shooting, Tucker grabbed 9 boards and scored 10 points off 5-8 shooting, and Sims (who never saw a shot attempt he didn't like) scored 13 points off 6-11 shooting.

But what about the three players I thought had the best chance to get a training camp invite (besides Garcia), well...let's just say they better hope they already proved what they were capable of before tonight. Garrett scored only 2 points, both off free throws, and went 0-4 from the field and also netted 0 assists. Matt Gatens was a DNP, and Lighty scored only 4 points off of 2-5 shooting.

Although for Lighty, something should be said for how he at least held Josh Selby in check a after he got off to a fast start scoring 11 points in the first quarter. Lighty was brought in shortly after and immediately made it much more difficult for him. I don't recall Selby actually scoring on Lighty while he was guarding him, but Lighty only played around 14 minutes while Selby played nearly 30, so he still ended up with 23 points. I still think Lighty has a good chance of getting a training camp invite based on his impressive perimeter defense and spot up shooting ability...but time will tell.

And with that, the Summer Suns' end their Vegas trip with a record of 2-3, and ending on a high note with a win over a pretty good Grizzlies team. Markieff was unquestionably the best player on the team, and Marshall finally showed (at least I hope) why so many people, including myself, are so high on him. Training camp won't begin until October, but Markieff and Marshall looked like they already developed some chemistry together over the last week. Let's hope they can both build on that and continue to improve as they get ready for the regular season.

For those of you who missed seeing the game live, it will be broadcast tonight at 10pm P.S.T. on NBA TV. This is one you may not want to miss.

Here is some post game audio courtesy of our own Seth Pollack:

Majerle post 072112

Morris post 072112


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