The Cleveland Cavaliers seem destined to acquire Kevin Love by the end of this month, but still have eyes for another All-Star forward in the interim. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, Cavs officials met with free agent Shawn Marion in Cleveland on Monday.
Cleveland can only offer Marion a contract worth the veteran’s minimum. Though he could surely command more than that from a competing team, Stein says the four-time All-Star’s desire to win another championship currently makes the Cavaliers his most likely destination.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Cavaliers are hosting Marion in Cleveland on Monday and are trying to complete a deal with the former Phoenix Sun and Dallas Maverick despite its inability to offer more than the league minimum.
Cavaliers general manager David Griffin has a strong relationship with Marion from their Phoenix days together and Cleveland, sources said, would love to bring Marion in to add depth, experience and versatility to a core that is expected to also feature Kevin Love if the Cavs complete their long-anticipated traded with Minnesota for the All-Star power forward later this month.
Marion is a natural target for the Indiana Pacers in the wake of the devastating injury suffered over the weekend by Paul George, but sources told ESPN.com that the Cavaliers — thanks to the presence of James — have the upper hand over Indiana or anyone else recruiting Marion at this juncture.
Cavs can only offer min. deal to Shawn Marion but that didn't dissuade him from traveling to Cleveland for visit. Wants shot at another ring
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) August 4, 2014
Getting Marion for the minimum would be a major boon for Cleveland. Whether the Cavaliers trade for Love or otherwise, they certainly need defensive help and a dose of depth. Though hardly in his prime at 36 years-old, Marion’s defensive merit and overall versatility make him a perfect for coach David Blatt’s team. There’s noise associated with any on-off numbers, but that the Dallas Mavericks allowed 4.1 points fewer per 100 possessions with Marion on the floor last season is an indicator that his days as an impactful defender are far from over.
Cleveland will lack a viable deterrent to high-scoring forwards other than LeBron James if it trades Andrew Wiggins for Love, and Marion’s ability to play both forward positions will help the Cavs regardless. A key aspect of the Miami Heat’s wildly successful small-ball attack the past two seasons were contributions from Shane Battier and Mike Miller – players that could capably check multiple positions and knock down open perimeter shots. Marion isn’t the shooter those guys are, but hit nearly 36 percent of his tries from beyond the arc in 2013-2014. And his defensive ability and general commitment would allow James more rest on that end than he was accustomed to with Miami.
A potential lineup of James, Marion, Love, Kyrie Irving, and Anderson Varejao is a bit awkward on the surface. But the all-court excellence of James and Love would mask most any offensive deficiency, and the similar impact of LeBron and Marion on the other end would help make up for a lack of rim-protection on defense. That quintet could be great, basically, and Blatt’s potential go-to unit in crunch-time.
It’s been assumed since James returned that Cleveland would be a landing spot for veterans comfortable chasing a ring on the cheap. Most just thought such additions would come in-season as opposed to the latter stages of free agency. Either way, Marion is surely the best player of that bunch – from an individual talent and overall fit standpoint.
Will Marion sign with the Cavs?
Follow Jack on Twitter at @ArmstrongWinter.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.