Shawn Marion is held in “extremely high esteem” by the Mavericks, and Marion would like to return to the team he’s played for over the past five seasons, reports Tim McMahon of ESPNDallas.com. Dallas unsurprisingly doesn’t want to shell out a salary close to the more than $9.3MM he’s made this season with his 36th birthday looming next week, McMahon writes, but it appears as though the Mavs are eager to bring him back at a rate closer to market price.
The Mavs have long been fond of Marion’s perimeter defense, having lobbied for him to win the Defensive Player of the Year award two years ago, and they’re dismayed that the league’s coaches have never voted him to an NBA All-Defensive team, according to McMahon. His defense was never more necessary than it’s been this season, when the Mavs have featured defensive liabilities Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis on the perimeter, and Marion has taken turns guarding Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili in the first round.
“We’d love to have five Marions and put them out there and guard all of their guys,” coach Rick Carlisle said.
Dallas has hung on to Marion the past two seasons, even as he represented one of the team’s best trade chips. McMahon suggests leaguewide interest in Marion will be high, naming the Heat, for whom Marion played in parts of two seasons, as a possible suitor. It appears as though McMahon is merely speculating, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see contending teams offer mid-level exception money to the Dan Fegan client. I’m not sure he’ll warrant the full value of the non-taxpayer’s mid-level, which calls for a starting salary of $5.305MM, but a salary akin to the taxpayer’s mid-level amount of $3.278MM seems like a fit.
The Mavs have about $28.2MM in commitments for next season, though that doesn’t include a new deal for Dirk Nowitzki. Dallas envisions making another run at marquee free agents, but to open up cap flexibility, it’s possible the team winds up renouncing its Bird rights to Marion if he doesn’t quickly strike a deal for a discounted salary, which would reduce his cap hold. Such a maneuver would limit the Mavs to the $2.732MM room exception, but if Marion’s interest in returning is strong enough, that might be enough.