The Cleveland Cavaliers continue to grab the majority of the headlines this summer. After re-signing Kyrie Irving, welcoming back LeBron James and agreeing upon the still-pending deal for Kevin Love, the Cavs added another piece to their roster yesterday with the acquisition of Shawn Marion.
The former Dallas Maverick reportedly informed the Cavs front office of his commitment over the weekend, and Cleveland infused even more veteran depth to their team. And though they’re hardly getting Marion in his prime, make no mistake; this is a high-quality signing for the Cavs.
Sure, Marion is in the twilight of his NBA career. At age 36, his prime is definitely in the rearview mirror. However, Cleveland didn’t sign him to start, nor did they bring him in to play an incredibly crucial role. With James in tow, the team already has a starter at small forward. But, as decorated as the Cavs’ starting lineup is, depth is always necessary. In Marion, the team has themselves a solid backup for James.
Remember, James will be turning 30 later this year. He may still be in his prime, but he’s also logged a ton of minutes throughout his Hall of Fame-worthy career. If Cleveland plans on making the deep playoff run everyone’s predicting, they’ll need to make sure James isn’t running on fumes by the second round. Marion gives the team a perfect candidate to give James necessary rest throughout the regular season, while at the same time not being a liability.
Marion’s defense will also be much-welcomed on the wing, especially with rookie Andrew Wiggins on his way out in the imminent Love deal. Offensively, Marion looks poised to contribute as well, coming off a season in which he averaged 10.4 PPG and shot .358 from three-point range.
One of the most important things about the Marion signing, though, is his turning down opportunities to make more money elsewhere.
Marion had met with the Indiana Pacers, who badly needed help at small forward after the devastating injury to Paul George. In Indy, Marion would’ve received a higher salary and a much bigger role with the team. He also received interest from the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers. At the end of the day, though, he chose to sign with Cleveland for the veteran minimum of $1.4 million, believing it to be the place where he had the best possible chance to win a ring.
This was not a common occurrence during James’ first tenure with the Cavs. Sure, the team made various free agent signings during those years, but no desirable players ever took a discount to come to Cleveland, turning down more money from other suitors in pursuit of a title. It’s now happened twice this summer alone for the Cavs, the first being Mike Miller. Marion saw how Cleveland has built the team in the past couple months and decided, if he wanted a championship, they were his best bet.
There have been some who aren’t as keen on this deal, mainly because it adds another older veteran to a club which, last year, featured one of the league’s most youthful rosters. Sure, guys like Miller and Marion aren’t as young as they used to be. At the same time, though, what did the Cavs youth get them last year? Cleveland had a team full of young legs which ended up netting a whopping 33 wins.
The bottom line is the Cavs still have plenty of youth, but they need experienced mentors to show the young guys what it takes to win it all. Cleveland just acquired a player like this in Marion, and a talented one at that.