Why is LeBron James paid a max contract? Not just because of his basketball skills, but of what he means to the value of a team and his ability to attract players to join in as well. It’s been a busy summer for both summer and star player, and their job may now be complete by adding Shawn Marion through free agency as well.
Marion, 36, contemplated retirement. He had offers from a few teams, but it was clear he wasn’t going to settle for a team that’s going nowhere. He declined offers from the Dallas Mavericks, and it seemed like his sights were set on the Midwest – either the Indiana Pacers, desperate for someone to sign at small forward after Paul George went down with a season ending injury, or the Cleveland Cavaliers, who look like the best team in the East by far.
Marion could have made more money and gotten a role with more minutes had he signed for the Pacers or anyone else. With the Cavs, it’s just going to be a backup and help on with certain lineups defensively. Kevin Love and LeBron James have the two forward positions covered, and there’s also Tristan Thompson to consider when calculating all the minutes that David Blatt needs to spread all around.
The Cavaliers have added Mike Miller, James Jones and Marion through free agency. They’re bringing in Kevin Love via trade which will cost them Andrew Wiggins (big loss but not insufferable considering the reward) and Anthony Bennett (not a big loss probably). It’s all thanks to the presence of James, teaming up with Kyrie Irving and returning to his original NBA team that made it all possible.
We’ve been criticizing James for letting the attention go to his head and for playing general manager. Still, it’s hard to argue that if there’s any player in this league worth the maximum contract because of the money he brings in to a franchise and for his ability to convince players to sign in order to play next to him, it’s James. Those four years in Miami didn’t just bring two championships, but also elevated him to a whole new level.
Meanwhile, the Eastern conference isn’t really liking what they’re seeing. Sure, the Chicago Bulls, with a healthy Rose, look like a very strong team going into the new season. The Washington Wizards and the Charlotte Bobcats are nothing to scoff about. The Miami Heat, although obviously weaker than before, will do better than people expect. But a shift of power has occurred and it seems LeBron James isn’t getting tired of adding more pieces to the masterpiece he’s trying to build.