Dallas Mavericks v Golden State Warriors

Report: Shawn Marion commits to play with Cavaliers, LeBron James


Shawn Marion said going into free agency winning was what mattered. And when faced with basically just veteran minimum offers he took the one where he is most likely to have a shot at a ring.

As had been expected for weeks, Marion told the Cleveland Cavaliers over the weekend he would commit to play with them and LeBron James next season, reports Marc Stein at ESPN.

Sources told ESPN.com that Marion informed the Cavaliers this weekend that he intends to sign with them this month despite the fact that Cleveland can only offer him a minimum deal…

Sources say that Marion has been telling teams for weeks that he hopes to wind up with a championship contender if he leaves the Dallas Mavericks in free agency. Marion spent the past five seasons with the Mavs and helped them win the first championship in franchise history in 2011 as a key role player who guarded players at four positions.

The Cavaliers could offer only a $1.4 million veteran minimum salary for the 15-year veteran who averaged 10.4 points a game with a solid .537 true shooting percentage and he shot 35 percent from three last season for Dallas. For those numbers that’s below market value. But as we moved into late August the only other offer on the table was from the Indiana Pacers, who couldn’t go higher than $1.7 million without getting into the luxury tax that team president Larry Bird reiterated last week was a line the franchise would not cross. The Pacers could have used Marion to help fill in for the injured Paul George, but they are not a contender and will struggle to even make the playoffs in the East this season. There was reported late interest from the Los Angeles Clippers, but they can only offer the minimum and are in the much deeper Western Conference.

With LeBron, Kyrie Irving and by next weekend when it becomes official Kevin Love, the Cavaliers will be right at the top of the East (along with the Bulls). Marion adds needed versatility and veteran depth to that team, as does Mike Miller (and they continue to go after Ray Allen for that same reason). Marion is not vintage Matrix at age 36, but he can be a solid reserve and gives them defense.

It’s another great pickup by the Cavaliers.

PBT Extra bold prediction previews: Don’t expect more wins in Toronto

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After winning the Atlantic Division then getting thumped in the playoff two years running, the powers that be in Toronto decided it was time for a change.

The added DeMarre Carroll and made shifts to make this a more defensive-minded team, all because of dreams of playoff success (which for the Raptors would be making the second round). What this changeover is not going to mean is an improvement off the 49 regular season wins the Raptors had last season — they sacrificed some scoring to get this defense, and there is a trade-off.

That said, I still expect the Raptors to win the Atlantic. Maybe they make the second round of the playoffs (way too early to make that call).

How many regular season wins they get — and if they win a postseason series — for me is going to come down to if Jonas Valanciunas takes a step forward. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan will be strong, Carroll is an upgrade, but the big man in the middle will be the hinge for everything.

Mike Budenholzer smirks at lawyer calling Thabo Sefolosha ‘NBA superstar’

Mike Budenholzer, Thabo Sefolosha
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The funny part, via Robert Silverman:

The substantive part:

NEW YORK (AP) — NBA player Thabo Sefolosha, who was arrested outside a New York City nightclub in April following a confrontation with police officer, has a character “of the highest order,” his head coach, Mike Budenholzer, testified Thursday.

Taking the stand as the final defense witness in Sefolosha’s trial, Budenholzer described the Atlanta Hawks guard-forward as “highly intelligent” and a “hard worker.”

When asked by defense attorney Alex Spiro to describe his character, he said it was, “of the highest order.”

“Thabo is of the highest character,” he said during brief testimony in Manhattan Criminal Court.

The Swiss national is charged with misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges stemming from a confrontation with officers outside a trendy Manhattan nightclub early in the morning on April 8. He has pleaded not guilty.

Officers testified this week that Sefolosha and former teammate Pero Antic repeatedly disobeyed their orders to move off the block and away from a crime scene that had been established following the earlier stabbing of another NBA player, Chris Copeland, and two women.

One of the officers also said Sefolosha lunged at an officer with his arm extended but was intercepted before making contact, eventually taken to the ground and arrested.

Sefolosha has testified that he was complying with orders and moving up the block as a particularly aggressive officer screamed profanities at him.

His attorney has argued that his client was singled out by the officer, who is white, because Sefolosha is black.

Sefolosha testified Thursday that he was trying to give money to a panhandler before entering an awaiting car when he was grabbed by police. He said his leg was kicked in the scuffle and he was taken to the ground, handcuffed and hauled to a police precinct. He suffered a fractured right leg, which forced him to miss the playoffs.

The case is the second one involving high-profile athletes accusing New York Police Department officers of wrongdoing this year. On Wednesday, the city agency charged with investigating police misconduct substantiated claims by former tennis star James Blake that an officer used excessive force when he took him to the ground last month after mistkaing Blake for a fraud suspect.