The biggest free agents of the NBA offseason have signed new contracts, but several potential difference makers for the 2014-2015 season remain without a team. With players like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh off the market, teams that need to fill up their rosters are targeting role players.
Shawn Marion is one of the most highly coveted free agents available. Entering his 16th NBA season, Marion has the ability to be a very productive contributor to a potential championship team. In 76 games with the Dallas Mavericks last year, the veteran averaged 10.4 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. His scoring average has been in double-digits every year of his career, and he’s played in 103 total playoff games.
The Cleveland Cavaliers appear the frontrunners to land Marion, as the organization met with him last week. Cleveland is over the salary cap and can only offer the 36-year-old a contract worth the league minimum, but the Cavaliers might give Marion the best chance to win. He’d join a team with James, Kyrie Irving and likely Kevin Love, who’s expected to be traded to Cleveland by the end of the month. Marion and his defensive skills would complement Irving and Love, who are known for their offensive abilities.
Cleveland is the betting favorite to win the 2015 NBA Finals and have the best record in the East. The No.1 seed in last year’s Eastern Conference playoffs is also looking to add Marion. Indiana Pacers team president Larry Bird met with Marion on Monday, in their attempt to make up for the loss of Paul George. A top defender like Marion, George will miss the upcoming season with a broken leg.
Bird said at a press conference that Marion made it clear that he intends to play for a team that can contend for a title. Without George and Lance Stephenson, who signed with the Charlotte Hornets as a free agent, the Pacers could see their win total from last season drop significantly. Because of George’s injury, the Pacers have a $5.3 million player exception that they can use on a free agent, which would allow Indiana to dwarf any offer that Cleveland can make.
The Los Angeles Lakers are looking to add another small forward to their roster, though they aren’t in on the bid for Marion. Instead, L.A. has had discussions with Michael Beasley. Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com reported that the Lakers brought in the free agent for a workout towards the end of July, though Beasley still remains unsigned. There appears to be interest on both sides, as the Lakers look to improve a roster that won just 27 games in 2013-2014.
Beasley spent all of last season with the Miami Heat. In 55 games, he averaged 7.9 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.