Latest News / Aug 12, 2014 / 1:15 pm

Shawn Marion Meets With Pacers But Cavs Still Lead

Shawn Marion

Shawn Marion (USATODAY)

Free agent forward Shawn Marion met with the Indiana Pacers yesterday in Indianapolis at the urging of team president Larry Bird. Though previous conventional wisdom said Indy was a legitimate threat to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Marion’s services as a result of being able to offer him a more lucrative deal, Bird indirectly refuted that notion during a press conference earlier today.

Cleveland can’t sign Marion to a contract worth anything more than the veteran’s minimum of $1.4 million annually. The Pacers are currently just $1.7 million under the the luxury tax line, but will be granted an injury exception due to Paul George’s season-long absence that will net them an additional $5.3 million of transactional wiggle room. Indy’s problem is that the extra cash has no affect on the cap – if they exceed $1.7 million in signing a new player(s), the Pacers will still have to pay the luxury tax. And according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Bird claims that’s a route they’re unwilling to take.

That puts a $1.7 million limit on Marion’s potential salary with the Pacers, one just $300,000 more than his maximum deal with the Cavs. If winning is a trump-card for Marion when the money is negligible, it seems increasingly likely that he’ll team with LeBron James in Cleveland. Windhorst says Bird admits as much, and his colleague Marc Stein also reports that the Cavaliers are in the driver’s seat.

Bringing Marion aboard would be a major boon for David Blatt’s team. Cleveland’s post-LeBron additions, Kevin Love included, have all been of players that make their biggest impact on offense or even qualify as negatives on the other end. A squad led by James – let alone one also featuring Love and Kyrie Irving – won’t have trouble scoring. It’s defensively where the Cavs will likely struggle, and Marion’s value on that side of the ball is still rare. His versatility is of utmost importance, too; the last thing the Cavs need is for James to expend maximum two-way energy by having to check the opposition’s best player every night.

Barring a minor surprise, Indiana’s aversion to paying the tax means Marion is bound for Cleveland. And aside from James and Love, his acquisition would be the Cavs’ most impactful of the offseason.

Is Marion a good fit with the Cavs?

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