Over the past couple of days on the tweeter network-y-thing Bulls fans have pondered up the idea of signing a former local (well, Waukegan and North Chicago are more like suburbs, but they certainly aren’t northern suburbs like Buffalo Grove and Lake Forest, either), Shawn Marion. The Matrix has had himself a distinguished playing career with averages over his fifteen year career coming to sixteen points, nine (wowza) rebounds, two assists, a steal and a half and a block per game. Pretty incredible considering the fact he’ll be most revered for his enigmatic jump (?) shot?
At any rate, Marion, 35, is still a useful basketball player transitioning from All-Star to role player over his career arch with ease that few master. Predominantly starting for the Dallas Mavericks over his past five seasons, Marion may be better suited coming off the bench for defensive purposes at this point. He still contributes offensively how and when he can, but his usefulness is in his versatility defensively – guarding both threes and fours.
Marion’s one of the better athletes the NBA has seen in the past ten years, and yet it’s pretty miraculous he’s been able to survive in the NBA as long as he has without much of an outside shot for defender’s to have had to respect.
At the start of the free agency, Marion’s value was thought to be in the five-million-a-year range. Teams with space (at the time) chose options other than Marion first. Now, with so many (competitive) teams, including the Bulls up against the tax line without a mid-level exception and exhausting their room exception (looking at you, Kirk Hinrich) and essentially rendered to allowing only a veteran minimum contract on their roster – the question becomes what is the new market for Marion?
First, Marion’s 35 and he’s likely not going to play for a non-contender at this juncture in his career. Having made over $135 million in his playing career, it’s safe to assume Marion’s concern may not be over a million or two left on the table (but who knows, really). A team like Phoenix has space even when considering a max cap hold for Eric Bledsoe. However, the Suns re-signed P.J. Tucker and also signed Anthony Tolliver, leaving Marion out of luck here, seemingly.
The Miami Heat will only be left with their room exception (which brings us back to the couple million on the table point), which is about $2.7 million. The veteran minimum for Marion would be just under $1.5 million. Most would find it agreeable that Chicago’s team stands as the superior roster when pitted against Miami, but that ultimately doesn’t matter if it’s not how Marion views the situation. In Miami, Marion may be afforded the opportunity to start, and at the very least can play more minutes a night with more minutes to go around in Miami than in Chicago.
Which brings us to Chicago. Marion is aware of the depth at the wing (Mike Dunleavy, Jimmy Butler, Tony Snell, Doug McDermott), but what works in favor of Marion is aside from Butler he’s the best defender of that bunch. Tom Thibodeau’s track record of preferring defensive-minded wings (Luol Deng, Ronnie Brewer) and finding those players minute might benefit Marion if he were open to the possibility of coming to Chicago. You can never have too much depth at the wing, especially when you take into account that nobody out of Marion, Butler, Dunleavy, Snell, or McDermott would be making more than $4 million next year.
To be frank, this is all speculation. Nothing has been reported by any knowledgeable source suggesting Marion and Chicago could come to an agreement. To nobody’s knowledge, they aren’t even talking or had a discussion. But in the event Chicago’s front office has been tracking the remaining free agent pool radar, it’d be hard to believe Marion isn’t on it.
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