It’s quite interesting to see the power shifts in the Eastern Conference, as the Indiana Pacers quickly turn into something of a laughing stock while the Cleveland Cavaliers are suddenly the number one player magnet in the NBA, which means there’s a very good chance they’ll end up signing Shawn Marion, maybe the best of the remaining free agents.
Marion has met with the Cavaliers and has gotten an inquiry, which is a fancy word for offer, from the Indiana Pacers. At this stage of his career, it’s probably going to be the chance of playing on a contender more than any other factor that falls into consideration. It’s also hard to see any team shelling out more than minimum or close to that kind of money for a 36-year old entering his 16th NBA season.
The Pacers need Marion more, there’s no doubt about that. Paul George went down with an injury that has ended his season. In fact, it’s probably ended the season for the Pacers, as a lineup of George Hill, Rodeny Stuckey, Roy Hibbert, David West and Chris Copeland/Solomon Hill might not even make the playoffs considering how poor the Pacers’ depth situation is. Having Marion come on will help them – especially when it comes to the defense George brings. However, there’s not much of an incentive for him to sign on.
The Cavs? That’s a different story. Whether they pull off the trade for Kevin Love or not, LeBron James joining the team has obviously changed their situation completely. They’ve been able to add Mike Miller through free agency, and they’ve been trying to convince Ray Allen to join as well. Except for the Chicago Bulls who might get in the way, the East looked primed for the taking as the Cavs bounce from being terrible more or less for the last four seasons into favorites to reach the NBA finals.
Mario averaged 10.4 points and 6.5 rebounds last season, playing 31 minutes a night. He’s still more than capable of being a lot more than a fringe player. A role player plus might be the right definition. Marion can defend four positions on the floor and is still capable of contributing more than just rebounds and experience. While he might get more minutes with the Pacers (or another team), if championship chances is what’s driving Marion’s next decision, the Cavaliers are any easy one to make.