Best Landing Spots for 2014 Unrestricted Free Agent Shawn Marion
LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and the other big names are off the board, but that doesn't mean teams can't still land some good value in 2014's free-agency bonanza.
There are plenty of solid role players available, many of whom could be had a discount. One such option is forward Shawn Marion.
He's not quite the athlete, defender or finisher he once was, which is why he may not be signed yet. The fact that he's still available is something Marion insists he's not worried about.
Shawn Marion says he's not thinking about free agency now, but is enjoying his 1st born -- a son who will be 3 months old on Thursday.— Dwain Price (@DwainPrice) July 15, 2014
If Marion is able to pry himself away from family, he could be a rotation piece on a team looking to contend, even at 36.
Last season, he started all 76 of the games he appeared in, averaging 10.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest. His three-point percentage of 35.8 was his best since the 2002-03 campaign.
At this point in his career, you have to imagine that's the kind of situation he's looking for. With only a couple years of NBA basketball left, Marion will likely want to play for a contender. A team already in the hunt or on the fringe, with plenty of veterans would be ideal.
Marion will forever be a fan favorite in Dallas after helping the Mavericks capture the franchise's only championship during his second season with the team.
In his years there, Marion's started 308 times, averaging 11.6 points and seven rebounds per game. He's been an excellent complement to all-time great Dirk Nowitzki.
But with the Mavericks signing Chandler Parsons and Richard Jefferson this offseason, it looks as though Marion may be done in Dallas. Because of those pickups, there aren't a lot of minutes or dollars to spread among small forwards.
Would Shawn Marion return to the #Mavs and play for the $2.7 million room exception? That, and the veteran's minimum, is all they have left.— Dwain Price (@DwainPrice) July 16, 2014
According to Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Marion being willing to accept a small offer from the Mavericks might not even matter, as the front office sounds like it's already moving on:
Shawn Marion has made $133.488 million in his career. Donnie Nelson said the 15-yr veteran is "a long shot" to return to the #Mavs next yr.— Dwain Price (@DwainPrice) July 17, 2014
If he were to come back on a veteran deal, he would certainly have an argument to play the backup small forward minutes over Jefferson. Take a look at how the two compared in 2013-14.
As you can see, Jefferson's the better shooter, but Marion's still a more effective rebounder and defender.
Plus, after helping the Mavericks win that title in 2011, Marion finishing his career in Dallas would be a better story than fading away somewhere else like Jason Terry or Jason Kidd.
Now, the defending Eastern Conference champions need to fill out that roster. A reunion with the defensive-minded Marion, who played 58 games with the Heat from 2008 to 2009, could be exactly what Miami needs to stay relevant.
Since then, James has made his announcement, which might make the need for Marion even more pressing.
Just imagine if he were able to thwart James again. Back in 2011, Marion's defense on James was a critical component to Dallas beating Miami in the NBA Finals.
Doing that again in the earlier rounds of the playoffs could be Marion's swan song.
Miami wasn't the only team to miss out on a big-name small forward in free agency. The Associated Press suggests the Chicago Bulls did what they could to woo Carmelo Anthony, but ultimately fell short.
They landed a nice consolation prize in Pau Gasol, but could now use some depth on the wing behind Mike Dunleavy and possibly Doug McDermott.
Tim McMahon of ESPNDallas.com reported that the Bulls have interest in Marion, later adding what the free-agent forward hopes to get out of free agency.
"Marion, 36, a 15-year veteran, said that he planned to play two more seasons. He has made it clear that his priority in free agency is finding a team that has a chance to compete for a championship," he wrote.
McMahon went on to quote Marion, who said, "I'm going to weigh my options out and see what it's going to take for me to get another championship ring."
He could have a solid shot at one in Chicago. With Miami weakened by the loss of James and Cleveland in the first phases of chemistry building, the East could be wide open.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers have had as strange an offseason as any team in the league.
They also whiffed on James and Anthony, and then proceeded to sign and re-sign what could amount to an island of misfit toys.
They've committed to younger players like Julius Randle, while simultaneously shelling out money for veterans Jeremy Lin, Jordan Hill and Nick Young. The latest from ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst indicates the Lakers have brought Carlos Boozer and Ed Davis into the fold.
It's tough to see exactly which direction the team is headed in, but if it's leaning more toward veteran savvy and a win-now philosophy to appease the aging Kobe Bryant, adding Marion might make sense.
No, the Lakers probably aren't a contender, so it's harder to justify Marion going there. But it is still one of the league's greatest franchises, and Marion would fill a need right away.
Without Marion, L.A.'s starting would lineup likely consist of Lin, Bryant, Young, Boozer and Hill. However, Young is more of a 2 and was pretty solid in the spark plug role off the Lakers' bench last season.
Marion's a more natural small forward and could help make up for the defensive deficiencies of Lin and Boozer.
San Antonio Spurs
If Marion's really serious about wanting to add another ring to his collection, there might not be a better situation for him than with the San Antonio Spurs.
Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News tweeted about how well Marion would fit as the backup to Kawhi Leonard at small forward:
If you're the Spurs, don't you offer your MLE to Shawn Marion at this point? If he's willing to backup Leonard, fills a roster hole.— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) July 13, 2014
In the pass-heavy, spread offense of the Spurs, the 36-year-old Marion wouldn't have to work very hard to get buckets. Moreover, his effort and intensity on the defensive end would certainly please coach Gregg Popovich.
He could also be a solid mentor for Leonard and incoming rookie Kyle Anderson, who figure to be the future of the Spurs at that position.
Andy Bailey covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him at @AndrewDBailey.