It looks like the Los Angeles Clippers won’t be adding Shawn Marion to the fold as Marc Stein of ESPN reports the veteran small forward is set to agree on a presumed one-year deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"Free-agent forward Shawn Marion has committed to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers, according to league sources.Sources told ESPN.com that Marion informed the Cavaliers this weekend that he intends to sign with them this month, despite the fact that Cleveland can only offer him a minimum deal."
Marion choosing the Cavaliers lets me know the Clippers had some sort of chance in this four-man race between Los Angeles, Cleveland, Miami, and Indiana to nab the services of Marion in free agency.
Like Cleveland, Los Angeles is a presumed championship contender. Coming off a season where the team won a franchise-high 57 games, the Clippers are banking on internal improvements and off-season acquisitions in Spencer Hawes and Jordan Farmar to push this team to the next level.
Like Cleveland, Los Angeles could only Marion the veterans minimum. There were opportunities available for Marion to net in more than a sum of $1 million-plus in Indiana, Miami, and likely any other team with cap space that could’ve used Marion in the upcoming season, but monetary sacrifice in hopes of competing for a NBA champion is the situation at hand.
The one area where Los Angeles–and Indiana (Paul George injury)–had a leg up over Cleveland and Miami was the ability to offer Marion a starting position in the lineup. Able to knock down open threes and defense opposing wings effectively, Marion could’ve slip perfectly into the small forward role, replacing Matt Barnes who started in majority games in 2013-14. This scenario would’ve put Jared Dudley in an uncomfortable situation, ultimately making him expendable, but it would’ve allowed Doc Rivers and the Clippers to temporarily plug in their current weakest link.
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But what’s done is done. Marion has decided to tag on with the Cleveland Cavaliers and will likely play behind LeBron James on the depth chart. With James, Marion, Mike Miller, James Jones, and Dion Waiters are the non-PG wings, it shouldn’t be tough for new coach David Blatt to manage minutes to preserve his older players prior to the playoffs.
There could be a few issues here. With the mentioned wings plus Kyrie Irving and Matthew Delladova, the expected point guard rotation, this leaves the perimeter defenses in a bad spot. Only James and Marion are plus-defenders at this point in there career. Miller has proven to be a smart defender in these last few years with Memphis and Miami, but he lacks the physical tools to keep up with the athletic wings of today. Delladova is tenacious, but it’s unclear if he’s defending well or trying hard at this point. That leaves Irving and Waiters left and they’ve a long ways to go before become reliable defenders–this could change under Blatt, but it’s best they prove willing to defend before projecting them to do so. This inconsistency in defenders could force James and Marion to play more minutes than expected, adding more wear and tear prior to the NBA playoffs, something James and Marion will both likely want to avoid as they’ve played an excess of minutes of the last few years.
It’s an interesting development to keep an eye on, but there’s no doubt that the addition of Marion is a positive improvement for a team that hopes to compete for a NBA championship this season.
Last season, Marion averaged 10.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.6 assist per game as a member of the Dallas Mavericks.