There was a time when Shawn Marion would seem like a huge pickup for the Cleveland Cavaliers. That time was still true at the start of the NBA Free Agency period this year. While Marion wasn’t on the top of the list, if the Cavs failed to get one of their top targets, the fans and Cavs would of sold themselves on the addition of Marion. That all changed when the Cavs signed LeBron James. The addition of James, and likely Kevin Love in 10 days, put a Marion sized addition in its rightful place.
Last week Cavs fans got excited when they saw that Marion was in town, dining at the Town Hall. Marion seemed like a perfect backup piece to a championship level team. Fans couldn’t believe the change of events that could lead a veteran like Marion to come to Cleveland, following the additions of veteran shooters Mike Miller and James Jones. Pinch us, is this real life Cavs fandom?
Then the pinch came. In the aftermath of the horrible Paul George injury, the Indiana Pacers seemed poised to steal Marion away. The $5.3 million injury exception that they will receive from the NBA for George could be spent to beat the Cavs for his services. Yet at a press conference yesterday the Pacers gave information that shows that they might be a minimal threat to steal away Marion’s services:
Pacers' Larry Bird re-affirmed at press conference team will not go into luxury tax. Will get 5.3M exception but only $1.7M under tax now.
— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) August 12, 2014
That is a huge difference. The Cavs can’t compete with $5.3 million but can offer $1.4 million for Marion. That means that the contract difference is minimal, especially for a player who has made a good amount of money in the league. According to Marc Stein the Cavs are still in the lead:
Indy IS trying to wedge its way into contention for Shawn Marion and Larry Bird did meet Monday with Marion, but Cavs remain in lead for now
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) August 12, 2014
So while Marion did take a face to face meeting with Larry Bird, a legend who could sway many players, it doesn’t look like their advantages are big enough to bridge the gap. The Pacers can offer 300K more and far more playing time. The Cavs can offer a very real chance for a title and less wear and tear on Marion’s knees, which could help him secure more years in the NBA down the road.
All information suggests that Marion is driven by winning another, or more, championships. Pairing up with the Cavaliers will give him that chance. Being a stop gap measure on a team that will now battle for the playoffs doesn’t seem to fit his desires.
For the Cavs yesterday’s reports from Bird were encouraging. Instead of fans being pinched back to reality they can continue to dream of a bench with Miller, Jones, Marion, Ray Allen, Tristan Thompson and more. A veteran laden bench to take pressure, and minutes, off of the starters and one that is able to teach as well as perform. It is a whole new basketball universe Cleveland fans get to live in. Enjoy, we deserve it.
What do you think of the Pacers’ threat to the Cavs?