Shawn Marion?

(Consider this one of those "thinking out loud" scenarios.)

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald noted Wednesday that Shawn Marion's situation is a bit up in the air. He's due $17 million in 2008-09, but would prefer to get an extension this summer. Miami probably does not want to offer that extension, becuase it would all but negate their play to get cap space in the summer of 2009. They'd prefer to play the market in '09 to paying Marion now.

But again: Marion wants a contract. He won't take much less than what he makes now ($17 million), Jackson assumes (while noting his agent, Dan Fegan, is a notoriously tough negotiator). He could very easily ask for a trade to a team which will pay him.

Miami's best interest in that case might be to just ignore him and let the deal expire in the summer of '09 (or trade him to a contender at the deadline for expirings and a pick)... unless the Heat could get something back without taking on future salary obligations.

Imagine this trade: Marion for Ron Artest, Mikki Moore, Quincy Douby and Atlanta's 2nd round pick.

Sacramento agrees to sign Marion for three or four years beyond his final year of this contract for a flat $17 million per year. The trade allows Sacramento to resign Beno Udrih without hitting the luxury tax in 2008-09. (It actually gives them a few million to spare.) The luxury tax does become endangered in 2009-10, but the Kings will then have two sizable expiring contracts to pawn off at the deadline; salaries aren't tallied for luxury tax reasons until the last day of the season. (So you can start the season $4 million over the tax line and make trades to slide under by the end. Teams do this on a small scale every year. Denver's Von Wafer-Taurean Green trade was an example.)

Miami, on the other hand, gets something for Marion: a year of Artest, a year or two of Mikki Moore (immediately their best center), a look at Douby, and a mid-40s pick. (This trade requires Artest not to opt out, obviously.) Artest can either be treated as an audition next to Dwyane Wade and [Beasley or Rose], or he can be a placeholder expiring contract. Moore should start for that team; his benefit is that the team would only be on the hook for $2 million of his 2009-10 contract -- if he's cut in the summer of 2009, the team only owes $2 million, which is a $4.5 million savings on his contract. If you need him, you keep him. If not, cut him. Douby's a cheap prospect.

Miami saves money next year, Sacramento gets an All-Star power forward entering the end of his career. Can Udrih/Martin/Salmons/Marion/Miller with Hawes, Garcia, [2009's #12 pick], Shelden Williams make a little run? Probably not. Can they win enough to fill some seats and possibly make the playoffs? Absolutely.

The goal in any such endeavor would be: making sure you don't block Hawes or Williams, which would necessitate fewer minutes for Miller, trading Miller and starting Hawes, or playing Marion at some 3; limiting the number of years on Marion's extension; drafting point guard help (even in the second round) because you won't likely be able to afford an Anthony Johnson type backup.

I'm all on board for full-on rebuilding. But I don't think you have to set whole rosters on fire to do so. Marion's got plenty left in his tank; All-Stars aren't available for a relative pittance too often. He'd be the only All-Star you could afford (beyond what you have) until 2011, likely. It's a matter of whether you think that core (Marion, Martin, Udrih, Miller) can get anywhere, and if not whether you're willing to wait until 2011 to try again.

But there's no sense (to me) in burning something to the ground for the sake of a shot at a high pick one year. You can build for somethin' and win at the same time.

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