Here’s a full list of remaining unrestricted free agents worth more than a minimum salary:
1. Shawn Marion
2. Ramon Sessions
3. Ray Allen
4. Andray Blatche (in the right environment only)
The pickings are slim. That’s why the Pacers are especially ill-suited – if there is such a thing when your franchise player suffers a season-ending injury – to replace Paul George. So, they’re going hard at, not only the most appealing name on that short list, but the player who fits best into the role George vacates.
Shams Charania of RealGM:
Marion is a huge upgrade over a couple other Indiana targets, MarShon Brooks and Gary Forbes. But Marion will also likely be costlier.
The Pacers have already used their full mid-level exception on C.J. Miles and Damjan Rudez, and they used the bi-annual exception on C.J. Watson last year.
Indiana can get a disabled-player exception by convincing an NBA-selected doctor George is “substantially more likely than not” to be out through June 15.” I don’t think that’s a tough case to make.
A disabled-player exception would be worth $5,305,000 and could be used to give Marion a one-year contract. That would definitely trump the minimum-salary contract ($1,448,490) Marion’s most-prominent other suitor, the Cavaliers, could offer.
However, the Pacers – even if they waive Donald Sloan’s unguaranteed contract to drop below 15 players – would be just $2,570,314 below the tax line. That small amount, barely larger than a minimum salary, probably won’t tempt Marion to help Indiana try to make the playoffs rather than help LeBron James try to win a championship.
Maybe the Pacers would clear more room below the tax line by waiving Luis Scola and/or Shayne Whittington, both of whom have partially guaranteed contracts, but they can’t afford to trim much depth with George sidelined. Without star power, a deeper rotation becomes more important.
That’s why Indiana is pushing for Marion, but as the team is constructed, making a tempting offer will be difficult.