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Move Westward Might Hit Spot For the Matrix

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Miami is among the many lottery cities where trade talk has really heated up since the NBA draft, especially given that the Heat joined the Bulls in picking a player at a position where they already had a highly paid incumbent.

As soon as the Heat selected Michael Beasley, the questions began about Shawn Marion's future in South Beach.  It isn't out of the question that the two could be teamed together with Beasley likely playing the three (especially in light o his lower-than-expected height reading).  However, given Beasley's more natural position of power forward, Marion's sizable expiring contract ($17.2 million) and the fact that he is likely to command a high price tag next year, there have been plenty of rumors surrounding a possible departure after half a season in Miami for the Matrix.

Really, it's too bad that neither the Clips nor Warriors will likely be able to make the right offer, because both places look like nearly ideal landing spots for the 30-year-old forward.

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While Marion is one of the most productive players in the league and has the physical skills to fit well on most squads, both Golden State and the little brother team in the City of Angels in particular seem to make a lot of sense because of their playing styles and the current states of the respective franchises.  Marion runs the floor as well as any power forward in the game, and both of the teams in question could use a player who will do that.

The Clips have of course brought in Baron Davis, which means that they can use all the explosiveness they can get beside him (thus the pursuit of Marion and Josh Smith).  Marion would have a field day scoring off lobs and easy cuts from Davis, particularly on the fast break, much like he did in Phoenix alongside Steve Nash.   He would also provide a quick defensive presence to pair with slower shot-blocking machine Chris Kaman in the middle, which would solidify the Clips' front line.  A lineup featuring Davis, Marion, Kaman and possibly first-round pick Eric Gordon (or incumbent Cuttino Mobley) would certainly cause its share of match-up problems for teams around the league.

Meanwhile, despite the loss of Davis, the Warriors are still coached by the one and only Don Nelson, which means that his style will likely remain in place: Fly up and down the court, fast break at every conceivable opportunity, put up lots of shots, play defense only if it isn't too much of a hassle.  Again, Marion would work well here because he runs the break very effectively, would provide a presence on lobs around the rim and could also provide the Warriors with some much-needed defense on bigger forwards. 

Of course, the kicker is that in either city, Marion would get the opprotunities to both continue boosting his personal stats and to enhance his own star.   As was discussed in this space when Marion made it clear that he was thrilled to leave a very good team out West for the league's worst team, Marion has established a legacy thus far of being a high-caliber player and a top-tier basket case.  His interests are primarily in receiving what he considers 'respect' and in enhancing his own resume.  The fast paces expected to be played in Golden State and Los Angeles would help increase his personal numbers, and the lack of a two-time MVP or an NBA Finals MVP or a number two draft pick in each city would likely help keep a greater portion of the spotlight on Marion, which sounds exactly like what he would want.

In the meantime, neither Golden State nor the Clippers are in range to contend for a title right now.  The Warriors will need to make some waves this off-season just to have a shot to get back into the playoffs sans Davis, and Marion is the sort of player who would be fun for fans to watch and would help the team up its win total.  Similarly, with a big front-court acquisition this summer, the Clips would be positioned to be capable of being very good, but there isn't a currently available player who turns this into a title-caliber team.  However, the Clips have suffered for long enough that having a very good player who plays a watchable game would be a big step in the right direction.  Enter Marion.  This isn't to say that the Matrix couldn't play on a championship team or that he should be avoided a tall costs by upper-echelon teams, but he seems like the sort of player who has the psyche to fit best on a team that wins its share of games but isn't good enough to really contend at the highest level.  He wouldn't be a cancer for the Clips or Warriors, and he would likely enjoy himself there.

The problem, of course, with both of these scenarios is that Marion still holds value to his current team, and neither of the Western teams in this discussion are likely to provide enough in return to match that value.  The Heat as currently constructed are going to look to get back toward the top of the East this season, and it's hard to imagine they would be willing to move Marion without getting major basketball talent back in return.  The Clips largely don't have that sort of ability to offer.  The Warriors' best option would be Monta Ellis, but the Dubs are supposedly intent on keeping him around to run the point, and though dynamic, a backcourt of Ellis and Dwyane Wade might not be optimal for the Heat.  Though both can handle the ball, both are really off-guards, and neither shoots the ball well from the perimeter.  Al Harrington isn't going to get this done from the Golden State end.

So the Marion watch continues.  But if there's a way to get him into a Clippers or Warriors uniform - perhaps with a third team involved to help the Heat get a fair return - it might be the best solution for all parties involved.

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