After reports surfaced in early August that the Cleveland Cavaliers were meeting with Shawn Marion, it seemed only a matter of time before the versatile free agent forward joined LeBron James and company. Two weeks later he’s done as expected, reportedly committing to sign with the Cavaliers.
The news is courtesy of ESPN’s Marc Stein. Stein notes that the chance to play for championship is the driving force behind Marion’s decision, especially considering Cleveland’s extremely limited financial flexibility.
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.
The chance to play with LeBron James and immediately compete for a championship, sources said, clinched Marion’s decision to choose Cleveland in the face of a ramped-up pursuit by the Indiana Pacers.
It became abundantly clear earlier this week that the Pacers, despite their concerted efforts, were a long-shot to sign Marion once Larry Bird confirmed that Indiana wouldn’t stray into luxury tax territory. That the Pacers would only offer him a negligible salary upgrade compared to the Cavaliers – $1.7 million versus $1.4 million – likely disqualified them entirely from the running for Marion in the wake of Paul George’s injury. Without financial advantages and realistic title hopes, the deck was stacked against Indy.
But Cleveland had competition for Marion nonetheless. USA Today’s Sam Amick reports that he was considering the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat before informing the Cavs of his decision.
Marion was reportedly considering the Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Clippers, but will instead add his versatile, veteran ways to this Cavaliers team that – talented though it may be – was still short on playoff experience.
As previously noted here, Marion represents a crucial addition for the defensively-challenged Cavaliers. Though hardly the crazy-active, long-armed, pogo-stick menace that helped him to “Matrix” fame in the mid-2000s, the 36 year-old Marion is still an impactful defender. He has quick hands, can guard multiple positions, and brings a player with a defensive mindset to a team that was sorely lacking one other than Anderson Varejao.
Marion won’t show up on any All-Defense ballots these days, but his impact for the Cavs might bely that reality – that’s how limited Cleveland appeared to be on that end before his decision. The addition of Marion surely eases the concerns of James, too. Always counted on to shoulder nearly unmatched offensive responsibility, LeBron was due for a similar defensive undertaking with Cleveland given his team’s options on the wing. But with Marion in tow, James can afford to freelance defensively for a game’s majority before switching to the opponent’s best player in crunch-time. As Father Time slowly ticks on LeBron, that influence can’t be understated.
With Marion aboard, the nouveau riche get even richer. Such is an aspect of the all-encompassing effect of James’ presence. Let’s see if the Cavs can put it all together come late October.
Will Marion make a difference in Cleveland?
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