By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
Posted Jul 6 2009 11:07AM
With Hedo Turkoglu shopping for a new home in Toronto, Rasheed Wallace agreeing to sign with the Boston Celtics and Jason Kidd saying he'll re-sign with the Mavs, the list of free agents who can make a serious impact next season is dwindling.
Of our original top 12 free agents, only five remain: Lamar Odom, Paul Millsap, David Lee, Marvin Williams and Shawn Marion. Only Odom and Marion are unrestricted, with Odom expected to stay with the defending champion Lakers.
That leaves Marion, who can give a contender an upgrade at forward or some added depth and versatility. But so far, the Matrix has looked like a forgotten man.
The four-time All-Star has seen his numbers and reputation take a hit since he was traded away from Phoenix (and its MVP point guard Steve Nash) in 2008. He lasted a year in Miami and will leave Toronto after just 27 games.
In order to sign Turkoglu, the Raptors will renounce their rights to Marion, among other players. So with Toronto out, and a sign-and-trade deal gone, too, Marion's list of potential destinations just got shorter.
There are still a couple contenders looking to spend money. The Blazers have about $8 million in cap room, which they were ready to give Turkoglu. The Cavs and Magic, meanwhile, were willing to use their full mid-level exceptions on guys like Wallace, Trevor Ariza and Ron Artest, but have been spurned so far.
We've also yet to hear from the Hawks, but they've got to worry about re-signing Williams and guard Mike Bibby before bringing in anybody new.
The Blazers need a veteran who can defend, and they could also get better at the small forward and point guard positions. But they are reportedly targeting Lee after losing Turkoglu.
The Magic just need depth after losing several rotation players this summer. They're looking at moving Mickael Pietrus into the starting lineup and have only Ryan Anderson as a back-up big man. The addition of Marion would allow Rashard Lewis to move back to small forward, Pietrus to back-up both Lewis and Vince Carter, and give them more versatility at both forward positions.
But Cleveland may be the best fit for Marion. The Cavs need athleticism and versatility on their frontline. Their big men are either old and slow (Shaquille O'Neal and Zydrunas Ilgauskas) or young and inexperienced (Darnell Jackson and J.J. Hickson). Marion is on the wrong side of 30, but he's still one of the league's best athletes.
General manager Danny Ferry and coach Mike Brown have the memory of the Cavs struggling to guard Lewis and Turkoglu in the Playoffs fresh in their minds. Re-signing Anderson Varejao is important, but Marion can guard almost every position on the floor.
The question is: Will Marion take the mid-level exception to join a contender? This is the first time he's been a free agent and at 31, this may be his last chance to cash in. He reportedly rejected a big payday from the Raptors earlier last week.
But if Portland spends their money elsewhere, the mid-level may be the best he can do.
Still, Marion can help himself and his reputation by helping the Cavs get over the hump. And if doesn't want a long-term, mid-level deal, he can just sign for one year and become a free agent next summer. That would also allow Cleveland to remain flexible and bring in another big free agent (like Bosh) to join LeBron James in 2010.
So far, the Cavs have come up empty in the 2009 free agent market. Ferry has one more year to convince James to stay in Cleveland, and as evidenced by the Shaq trade, he's willing to take chances. But before he can convince the MVP to re-sign next summer, Ferry's got to convince a free agent or two this year. And for some reason, none of his initial targets have wanted the opportunity to play with James and O'Neal.
Ferry can salvage his post-Draft offseason by adding Marion. While Marion and the Cavs have been free agency's biggest losers, they might be perfect pairing, too.
|Christmas Day Preview: Thunder-Knicks|
The Gametime crew preview the Christmas Day match-up between the Thunder and Knicks at 2:30pm EST on ABC.
|Saturday's Top 10|
Enjoy the very best plays from Saturday night.
|The Daily Zap|
Catch up on all the action from a busy 12-game night in the Association.
|Nightly Notable - Dwight Howard |
Dwight Howard goes to work finishing with 35 points and 19 boards in the Rockets win over the Pistons.
|Play of the Day - Darren Collison|
Matt Barnes deflects the Nuggets pass and Darren Collison sinks an incredible off-balanced buzzer-beater to end the first half.