It’s quite perplexing to see Shawn Marion still available, with no team picking him up off of free agency. The Dallas Mavericks are making an effort to retain him, but a more interesting opportunity for him might be the Houston Rockets, who should have made a move already.
Losers in the Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh sweepstakes, the Rockets are still licking their wounds. Those who still think of Daryl Morey as a statistical genius say he simply swung for the fences and missed. He still has great players in Dwight Howard and James Harden, and he’ll have the cap space to make big moves in two years, while also being able to improve the team next season as well.
However, with two players who are hungry to compete (although might actually hamper their attempts to do it), the Rockets can’t just sit back and wait for cap space to clear up. The West is a dog eat dog conference, and missing out on opportunities to sign useful players is punished by having those players playing against you. Shawn Marion is that kind of guy, despite his age and his tendency to not give anyone discounts.
Marion is 36. True. He can’t create his own shot. True. But he gives the Rockets something the lack. More than one thing. Experience and defense to begin with. He can play both positions next to Howard, and with him and Trevor Ariza in the starting lineup, which means the impressive Terrence Jones becomes a bench player, the Rockets suddenly don’t seem so bad defensively.
Marion can stretch the floor a bit but not too much. He is a very good rebounder and his age hasn’t hurt his ability to play long minutes on the floor. He can be useful off the bench as well, but he isn’t good enough offensively anymore to provide that “spark plug” quality coaches and GMs love so much.
Maybe Morey is just overrated. Maybe the Rockets actually got worse because he doesn’t evaluate talent properly and made the wrong deals chasing after an impossible dream. But even if that’s the truth, it’s fixable. There are still good free agents out there, and Marion might be the one best suited to make this off-season look less than terrible for a franchise that has underachieved these last two seasons.