Tuesday , Feb , 12 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

What Will Shawn Marion Do For Miami? If He Stays, That Is

What Will Shawn Marion Do For Miami? If He Stays, That IsGood point guards and good centers are hard to come by. When two good ones get on the same team, that team becomes a legitimate contender. Relatively good 2-3 “swingmen” are much easier to come across – especially since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen helped to revolutionize the position. Rarely, though, if ever, can a legit contender be centered on two swingmen. Jordan is, as he usually is, the exception to this rule. That is why it is perplexing that Pat Riley compared Dwyane Wade and Shawn Marion to the Bulls’ dynamic duo. 

My first reaction is that Riley’s been on the wrong side of Miami Vice for a few years if he truly thought that. There are simply too many things wrong with that statement.

Let’s delve a little further, shall we? Part of the motive behind dumping Shaquille O’Neal’s contract was to free up cap space. Next year, Marion has a player option but makes less than Shaq would have made. The year after that, Marion is off the books but Shaq is on for another $20 million. However, there are talks of extending Marion – he was looking for a three-year, $60-million deal in Phoenix. Is Miami going to come close to that? If so, they did not do very well at dumping salaries.

Since last season, I have been saying that Marion will not opt out simply because, as much as I admire the guy, he is not going to get $17.8 million on the open market (his salary next year). So, he’s not going anywhere of his own volition. I wonder if he starts pouting in Miami if they do not give him his $60 million?

In any event, extending Marion makes no sense for two reasons. The first is set forth above: While not a Shaq-type cap-killer, he can restrain the front office budget. The second is that he’s not the type of player that is going to bring the championship to Miami. He might, in fact, be just good enough to keep the Heat mired in mediocrity.

Against the Lakers, he got his “normal” box score – 15 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks while playing 44 minutes. Over his career, he averages about 18 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 1.3 blocks per game in 38 minutes. Further, he was not “a product of the Suns’ system” nor were his numbers abnormally inflated because “he played with Steve Nash.” He was good before Nash came and he will still get his numbers after leaving Nash.

He added energy on both ends of the court for the Heat. He was always streaking down the court, such that even when he didn’t finish the break he spread the transition defense enough to allow the trailers (who couldn’t keep up with him) to be open. Wade even seemed a little more lively than in the ten or so Heat games I’ve seen this season.

What he is going to do is play well enough to elevate the Heat to wins a few games they would have otherwise lost, and this is going to hurt the Heat vis-à-vis seeding in the draft lottery.

The thing with Marion is that he simply is not a bad player and he cannot let himself play badly. On the other hand, he’s not an elite player (I don’t have enough room to get into here). He can make your team very good, but not great. He plays within certain parameters – that’s just what he does, and he does it very well. By doing so, he also may hurt the Heat’s chances in this draft. Additionally, building a future around him is a big cap hit and the money can probably be spent better somewhere else.

Pat Riley is smart enough to know all of this. Marion may finish the year in a Heat uniform but I doubt he finishes the next in one.