After reading some of the comments to this post I thought I should rephrase the title to better convey what I believe. I didn't change anything I wrote except adding a bold in the second paragraph. I respect the yearning of Clipper Nation to BELIEVE that the Clips have a shot a LeBron James but I hold firm in my belief that the odds of that happening are so low that they shouldn't squander an opportunity to lock in a nice vet player at reasonable price. If he wants too much money or too many years, I agree - forget it. But if you can get him on a Cuttino type deal - he may be a great deal.
Seeing the results of Steve's poll I guess I am in the minority but let me ramble on as to why it might make sense to sign Marion to a multi-year deal instead of a 1 year.
First off, to be clear, my opinion is to get him for a reasonable (~6 to 7M/year) multi-year deal or not at all. Here's why:
1. A One Year Deal with the Clips is Wasted Money
From a fan's standpoint: I don't know Marion's mindset, but it's not a hard jump for anyone to think that a one year deal with the Clippers is easy money. If Marion doesn't perform well it will be easy for many fans to think that the Clippers are just a pit stop for him on the way to somewhere else. It would be easy to think he's not giving a full 100% because he won't be here next year. Any little injury - why push it? He's gone in a year anyway! Total waste of money.
Opposite View: He has to play well - he's in a contract year. Well if he's so interested in looking good on a one year deal shouldn't he accept less money and play for a winning team, with more national airtime, where he could look better for 2010? It just seems that if he takes more money to come to the Clips for one year - his mentality is more focused on the almighty dollar than winning. Plus as a player how would you feel if a team told you, "We only want you for a year, take it or leave it?" Doesn't really make you feel all warm and fuzzy about being part of a team, does it? Would you really put 100% effort into being the "glue" for a bunch of guys you'll be leaving in 9 months anyway?
From Al Thornton's standpoint: Why are they renting this guy to play in front of me for a year? What's the plan here? Should I just cruise until the year is over and I get my starting spot back? Disappointment and confusion.
2. Forget the 2010 Cap Space - No Tier One Guys Will Sign With the Clippers
Get real Clipper Nation. Let's say you rent Marion for a year - obviously hoping he does well. Let's say everything goes according to plan. The new Clippers get to the Western Conference Finals. (Why do I throw that in there? Because. Do you think LeBron is going to want to play for a team that just barely made it into the playoffs or past the first round? NO WAY. It's either go to a contender or stay with the Cavs who will most likely be able to offer him the most money. Remember Kobe coming to the Clippers for less money? Yeah that didn't work out for the Clippers.)
Okay, so Marion does great for one year, like you hope. You throw a bid at LeBron, along with a handful of other teams. As he's taking his time deciding, Marion says "I guess I'm out" and signs somewhere else. LeBron says "No Thanks" and signs with some other team in the East (Why would he even come West, where it's so crowded?...) and the Clippers are starting over again.
Now you've lost your perfectly good glue guy and you're starting over. Again. Rebuild team chemistry - again. What happens to Al Thornton? - again. Bring in someone else? If you're thinking Al is going to be the guy by then, why even sign Marion? Shouldn't Al develop now? All those issues, one year later - same place.
Why didn't I mention Wade or Bosh? Wade plays the 1/2 (uh, Baron and Gordon???) And Bosh? (I see him maybe if both Kaman and DJ look horrible, I guess) But then you're in big trouble if you need to go after Bosh because then you'll want Marion locked in for more years after you just went to the WCF with him. Marion must have been decent to great if Kaman/DJ sucked and you still got that far.
3. Getting Marion for Multiple Years Solves Some Vital Issues
(a) Stability. Marion will know this is his immediate future. He can invest himself fully into the team, being the glue between Baron, Gordon, and Griffin who will all be here with him for the next few years. They can build on this 4 man core. He can settle in and play not having to worry about the upcoming offseason.
(b) Solves the Al Thornton issue. Al knows that he's now behind a veteran for the forseeable future. If he wants to start again he's gotta outplay Marion to get it back. That means play the right way, defend, etc. ALL VERY GOOD. Either Al will step up or the Clips let him go when his rookie contract is up AND they'll still have Marion.
(c) The Cuttino Mobley Value Factor. I loved the Clips signing of Cuttino. It wasn't splashy but it was great knowing we had him for X amount of years and he devoted himself to the Clips. I think it was a very fair contract and Cuttino certainly gave us fans our money's worth. I see signing Marion the same way. A veteran whose glory years might be behind him but is able to give a solid contribution night in and night out AT A REASONABLE price.
I think the Clippers win by giving Gordon and Griffin (along with DJ and Taylor) a vet guy who they know will be with them for a few years - and Marion wins by getting a longer contract and a big market to maybe make his last hurrah in and cash in on whatever endorsements might still be out there.
Yeah there is the possibility that LeBron would sign with the Clippers, but really what are the odds? You'd have to say not very good at this point or even a year from now. What's the odds that Shawn Marion will be a bust in a multi year deal? We know very well in Clipperland that injuries can ruin the value of contracts at any time. You have to go with the assumption that players will be healthy and perform close to their career numbers or you'd never make any moves.
Get Marion for a reasonable multi year deal and stabalize the roster now.