While the majority of the NBA world is now anxiously awaiting the arrival of August 23, the day it appears the Cleveland Cavaliers will trade for Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love, said deal is not the only move the Cavs are looking to make.
Cleveland can still sign another player to the veteran minimum, and for a while it seemed like there was a specific target in mind. Cleveland had set their sights on future Hall of Famer Ray Allen, who had reportedly expressed interest in following LeBron James to Ohio. However, things have changed since it appeared an Allen signing was inevitable. The 39-year-old guard is now hinting he may be retiring instead of returning this season.
Meanwhile, the Cavs are widening their sights, as they met yesterday with free agent forward Shawn Marion. Whether or not the former Dallas Maverick is a backup plan if Allen retires remains to be seen. However, if this is an “either or” situation between the two free agents, it does make you wonder just who would be the better fit for Cleveland. Would the team be better off with Allen or Marion?
In terms of the contributions each player could bring to the Cavs, the answer appears to be Marion.
First of all, this is no slight on Allen. His perimeter shooting is crucial when you have someone like James driving the lane. He could easily put up 12-15 points sitting at the three point line waiting for a kick-out pass.
Essentially, though, this is the majority of what you’d be getting with Allen. For most of the time he’s on the floor, Allen is utilizing his deadly accurate three-point shot. With Mike Miller and James Jones already in tow to pretty much do the same thing, Allen would really just add some depth to Cleveland’s perimeter shooting.
Marion, though, comes with more aspects to his game. He averaged more points per game in each of the past two seasons than Allen. Marion isn’t as accurate a three-point shooter, but his shooting percentage from behind the arc last year was just 0.017 less than Allen’s. On top of this, Marion’s overall field goal percentage was actually higher than Allen’s last season.
More importantly, Marion can add some much needed depth to Cleveland’s front court. He can give James some well-timed breathers throughout the year, while the two could also share the court together if the Cavs want to play small-ball. His defensive game would also be much-welcomed by a team which has struggled in this department for quite some time.
Again, either player can add something to the Cavs. At the same time, if it comes down to picking one over the other to use the vet minimum on, the team needs to go with who can give them the most bang for their buck. As it stands, that would be Marion.