Shawn Marion

Thanks to Shawn Marion, the Heat Now Have More Options

If the rumors are true that Pat Riley is lukewarm about drafting Michael Beasley, then perhaps Shawn Marion can help sort things out. Thanks to Marion’s choosing not to opt out of his contract last night, Riley suddenly has two major trade chips tucked in his $3,000 Armani suit pocket. He’s got Marion and he’s got the number two overall pick.

Let’s start the insanity.

One of the latest rumors has the Heat trading Marion and the number 2 pick to the LA Clippers for Elton Brand and LA’s number 7 overall pick. Word out of LA is that the Clippers really like USC guard OJ Mayo, and getting the No. 2 slot would secure them their man. Miami, meanwhile, would get a guy they’ve always loved in Brand, while giving Dwyane Wade a dominant inside presence he hasn’t enjoyed since Shaquille “How Does My Ass Taste?” O’Neil was here. With the number 7 pick at their disposal, Miami could then choose a top notch prospect who would help fill an immediate need. UCLA point guard Russell Westbrook, Arizona point guard Jarryd Bayless or even Italian forward Danilo Gallinari should still be there at seven.

Westbrook isn’t Mayo or Derrick Rose, but he’s a superb guard in his own right, and plays with a motor that won’t quit. He also plays stifling defense, something Riley is quite fond of in a player. Likewise the versatile Gallinari, who would play opposite Brand, is a big man who can create his own shot, has a sweet midrange jumper and can drain it from beyond the arc.

Another trade rumor has the Heat sending the number 2 pick to the Memphis Grizzlies for the number 5 pick, forward Mike Miller and point guard Mike Conley. This would likely be contingent on the Heat also taking Brian Cardinal and his two-year $13 million contract off Memphis’ books (which is the reason Memphis would agree to a trade in the first place). With the number 5 pick, the Heat would then have even more flexibility. They’d have their choice of Gallinari, UCLA power forward Kevin Love, or even Mayo, should he slide down to five.

The scenarios for Miami to make a deal are numerous. A lot of it rides on Riley deciding if he wants to draft Beasley and wait for him to round out into an All Star, or trade the pick and get a group of players that will make the Heat instant playoff contenders. Of course, other teams have to agree to make a deal. But Marion staying with the Heat has made things a little more flexible, and a little more interesting.

- Chris Joseph

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