The biggest name remaining in unrestricted free agency is that of Shawn Marion. He might be more needed elsewhere, but the Cleveland Cavaliers are making a strong push and might be the leading candidates to sign the veteran small forward.
Why are they the favorites? Having LeBron James doesn’t just meaning signing the best or second best player in the NBA. It also means hiring someone who is almost like a second general manager, who players want to play with. Kevin Love is demanding a trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers because of James, although that’s not really up to him. Shawn Marion doesn’t need to ask anyone’s permission, making things a bit simpler.
Marion has other teams after him. The most desperate of them seem to be the Indiana Pacers after the injury to Paul George, who’ll be out for something around a year, missing next season. The Houston Rockets have also been mentioned in regards to Marion, a four-time NBA All-Star who is still mulling his next move after six seasons with the Dallas Mavericks, during which he also won the NBA championship in 2011.
Marion might even consider retirement, although that seems unlikely. At 36, he is still a lot more than just a bit player. A very good defender who can play two positions, Marion averaged 10.4 points and 6.5 rebounds last season while spending 31.7 minutes a night on the floor. While possible not as durable as he was during his early NBA years, he didn’t have any serious injury issues last season, playing in 76 regular season games and seven more in the postseason.
David Griffin, the general manager of the Cavaliers, was part of the Suns organization when Marion was playing in Phoenix, so there is a personal connection that might also give the Cavs the edge when it comes to getting a final decision out of Marion.
Marion is probably looking for more than the minimum deal (made $9 million a season on his last contract), but probably above everything is the chance to contend for another championship. From the teams looking to sign him, the LeBron James Cavaliers are probably his best shot at playing a meaningful part in a team with an actual shot at the title.