Within these last few weeks, the Clippers have been active as they look to fill the final slot on the roster. They’ve reportedly shown interest in point guard Toure’ Murry and and Dwight Byucks, are set to work out centers (Oden, Bynum) this week, and now, per the Orange County Register, the Clippers have set their targets on free agent small forward Shawn Marion, one who many refer to as the best non-restricted free agent left on the open market.
The team, which still has one spot to fill, appears content to try and wait out the remaining free agents because they can offer only the veteran’s minimum. One target, forward Shawn Marion, reportedly met with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday.
Between the intangibles and skill set, Marion would be the PERFECT small forward for the Clippers. Not only does he knock down the open three (shot 37.5% on catch-and-shoot 3s per NBA Stats), but Marion still defends small forwards at a near-elite level. Outside of what Marion can offer at small forward, his versatility offers the Clippers the extra option of playing small forward in specific match-ups.
Most importantly, Marion’s presence allow the Clippers to sell low on the small forwards currently on the roster–mainly Jared Dudley. Of the four players the Clippers have placed on the trading block this summer (Crawford, Dudley, Bullock, Barnes), Dudley makes the most sense to dump. Jamal Crawford‘s scoring is key to LA, Barnes is the preferable back-up small forward, and Bullock provides upside. Dudley’s decline and salary (owed $8.5 million over the next 2 seasons) makes him the easy out of the bunch.
The Clippers pursuit of Marion won’t come easy. In the lastt few days, both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers have increased their interest in the small forward–Cleveland to bring in more wings around LeBron James and Indiana in the wake of Paul George‘s injury. Indiana has a hand up on Cleveland and Los Angeles as they’ve the assets to offer Marion more than the veterans minimum. On the flip side, Cleveland and Los Angeles present Marion a better chance to compete for a NBA championship. It will all come down to what Marion prefers, but if the length of his free agency has shown us anything, winning may sit higher on Marion’s ladder than money.
Last season, Marion averaged 10.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.6 assist in 76 games with the Dallas Mavericks.