With Marshall out, Bucks turn to Bayless to fill backup PG role
ST. FRANCIS, Wis. — At the beginning of the season, much was made of the glut of point guards the Milwaukee Bucks had on their roster.
Brandon Knight was the starter, while Jerryd Bayless, Kendall Marshall and Nate Wolters were left to fight for minutes off the bench.
But in the NBA, depth can quickly be erased.
Less than a week after the Bucks waived Wolters in order to sign Kenyon Martin to address their short-handed frontcourt, Marshall suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
That leaves Knight to start with Bayless as the only true point guard on the bench.
"He’s the backup point," Bucks coach Jason Kidd said of Bayless. "There are two of them now. There are other guys we can throw in there, but he knows his role and what he has to do now that there are just two of them."
Bayless has spent plenty of time at point guard this season, but Marshall’s presence allowed Kidd to mix and match with his second unit. For the time being, Bayless won’t be able to play as much off the ball.
"That probably will be the case," Bayless said. "When Kendall was here we were splitting time with that. It is unfortunate what happened to him. (Playing less off the ball) will probably be the case.
"It doesn’t matter. I’m just going to try to make it work and help the team win."
The Bucks signed Bayless to a two-year, $6 million deal this offseason due in part to his ability to cover them at both guard positions.
Bayless has been a valuable addition for Milwaukee, as the 26-year-old has averaged 7.5 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 21.2 minutes per game. He’s shooting a career-best 44.4 percent from the field and is the NBA’s top free-throw shooter at 98.5 percent.
"It has been up and down," Bayless said of his season. "There have been times where I’ve played better than others, obviously. I have to become more consistent and then hopefully help the team more."
The Bucks tried using Giannis Antetokounmpo at point guard during the preseason, but Kidd balked at the notion of using the 6-foot-11 second-year player at point guard.
"O.J. (Mayo) would probably be the guy," Kidd said of an emergency point guard. "It is just being able to execute the offense. We could have (Zaza Pachulia) start the offense. Most 7-footers wouldn’t be picked up full court."
Marshall brought uniqueness to Milwaukee’s bench. He was a big point guard who was finding success using his passing ability out of the post.
The Bucks continue to have the highest-scoring bench in the NBA (43.6 points per game) despite three season-ending injuries and the absence of Larry Sanders significantly impacting their depth.
"We still believe in ourselves," Bayless said of the bench. "We’ll be ready for the stretch we have coming up. Hopefully we’ll continue to win."
The Bucks officially signed Kenyon Martin to a second 10-day contract Monday, but they may need to address the point guard position at some point. With three players ruled out for the season, Milwaukee could explore receiving the league’s hardship exception.
In order to be granted the exception to sign a 16th player, a team must have four players who will continue to be unable to play miss at least three games due to illness or injury. It is only a matter of time before Marshall misses three games, but Larry Sanders likely won’t count as a fourth player out because he is currently serving a league-issued suspension.
Marshall’s injury occurred at a bad time for the Bucks, as they likely would have held onto Wolters if it had happened prior to the Martin signing. Wolters is currently in the midst of a 10-day contract with the New Orleans Pelicans.
"It would be something that we might look at down the road," Kidd said of adding a point guard.
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