After departing from the Dallas Mavericks, in which he spent five quality seasons, Shawn Marion is on the open market with intentions to compete for an NBA championship. The versatile forward has expressed his desire to sign with a contender. So far, the Indiana Pacers and the Cleveland Cavaliers have emerged as the front runners for Marion’s services.
Financially, the Pacers can offer the veteran up to $5.3 million, money granted through a disabled player exception (due to Paul George’s broken leg). However, if Indiana spends more than $1.7 million, they become susceptible to the luxury tax. The Cavs can only offer $1.4 million, but possess a more appealing roster.
It’s imperative that the Cavaliers work out a deal with the 36-year old Marion. Cleveland easily has one of their busiest and best off-season in years. We brought back Akron native, LeBron James, as well as signing his favorite perimeter shooters, Mike Miller and James Jones. As productive as the Cavs have been in adding offensive weapons, the only one with a strong defensive presence is James.
As we all know, defense wins championships, and Cleveland resided in the basement ranks defensively. According to Basketball-Reference.com, the Cavaliers surrendered 107.7 points per 100 possessions, ranking 19th in the league. It’s not horrible by any means, but definitely leaves room for improvement. Marion without a doubt can provide that defensive upgrade.
Despite being a 36-year-old on the tail end of his career, Marion proved last year that he can still contribute (10.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg). Even though individual numbers, such as blocks per game, have declined, he can still disrupt plays and offensive sets. ‘The Matrix’ would be guaranteed quality minutes, especially with Kevin Love, Anderson Varejao, and Tristan Thompson in the rotation. These players aren’t exactly known for their defensive prowess around the rim. Not to mention, Marion brings the ability to defend multiple positions. This would alleviate some pressure of LeBron defensively, in addition to contributing toward overall team defense.
Besides the defensive pedigree, the four-time All-Star brings valuable playoff experience, reaching the postseason ten times in 15 years of service. Marion appeared in three separate Western Conference Finals, two with the Phoenix Suns (2005, 2006) and a successful championship run (2011) with the Mavericks. This experience exceeds the total amount of the whole team last year.
Aside from Varejao’s five postseason trips, the Cavaliers lacked the experience from everyday role players. I excluded Jarrett Jack and C.J. Miles due to both enduring subpar seasons, while Luol Deng and Spencer Hawes were half season rentals with no future here in Cleveland.
Now it’s a new year, a new team and a new regime. The Cavs sought out shooting and playoff experience through free agency and completed their mission. Adding James, Miller, Jones, and even Brendan Haywood brought over 400 games of postseason basketball. Throwing Shawn Marion into the mix only increases that number, as well as, solidifying Cleveland’s chances at a title run.