Donyell Marshall has sponsored an AAU team for 15 years, has coached it himself the last couple of seasons. Now, the 76ers' unrestricted free agent is in Charlottesville, Va., helping coach young athletes during a National Basketball Players Association camp that focuses as much on life skills as on basketball.
"I've kind of been preparing for this moment, whenever it comes, whenever I do retire as a player," Marshall, 36, said on the phone yesterday. "I've never said I wouldn't keep playing. In fact, I'd definitely like to do that, but we'll have to see what happens with teams' plans.
"I've played 14 years, and normally there might be teams that would keep a player like me to help work with the younger guys. But the economy hurts everybody; teams are making cuts they might not normally make. Maybe they only keep 13 or 14 players instead of 15, and that impacts somebody like me."
Marshall is recovering from surgery last week on his right wrist, resolving a problem that "bothered me all season."
"I had an MRI during the season, but decided to play through it," he said. "That's why I wore black tape on the wrist."
He is covering all of his bases, showing interest in the Comcast SportsNet analyst's job on Sixers games that became available when Bob Salmi's contract was not renewed. Speculation indicates that SportsNet also has an interest in two other former Sixers: Rick Mahorn, head coach of the WNBA's Detroit Shock who has worked as a radio analyst on Pistons games; and Ed Pinckney, an assistant coach with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
In the meantime, Marshall has a definite message for the young players at the Players Association camp, including Rakeem Christmas, of North Catholic, and Marcus Kennedy, of Living Faith in Cherry Hill, N.J.
"When I do my own camps, I tell the kids the first day there isn't going to be any street ball, that they're there to learn the game," Marshall said. "That means learning about backdoor cuts, setting screens, running set plays. The game has changed, with an emphasis on scoring. The first thing some kids look for is how many points somebody scored; they don't watch for good defense, rebounding, things that might be more important than the guy who scores 30 points. I see kids who are talented, but missing the basic fundamentals."
About 24 players will go through 2 full days of training and an intrasquad exhibition game at the Thomas & Mack Center, with the coaching staff evaluating talent for future national-team competitions. Toronto Raptors coach Jay Triano will coach the group, with NBA assistants Tyrone Corbin, Utah; Dave Cowens, Detroit; Kenny Gattison, New Orleans; and Jerry Sichting, Minnesota.
"Andre was there last year, too, and Thad had a great season," Donyell Marshall said. "That tells you the Sixers' young core is good. That's why I'd like to stay if I could, in some capacity."
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The Sixers will introduce the recently acquired Jason Kapono in a telephone news conference today . . . As part of a marketing event, the team will relaunch their brand identity with a bus tour that will start Tuesday afternoon from the Comcast Center . . . Unrelated to the Sixers, Tasheed Carr, of Saint Joseph's, went through a predraft workout Tuesday with the Chicago Bulls. *