Fourteenth in a 15-part series ranking the Mavericks' 2011-12 roster in importance of bringing back next season.
By garnering enough votes from the media to finish eighth for Defensive Player of the Year and enough votes from the 29 other league coaches to finish among the "others receiving votes" for the NBA's two all-defensive teams, Shawn Marion ranks among the greatest Dallas Mavericks defenders in team history.
Tyson Chandler set the bar for frontcourt players last season when he finished third in DPOY voting (he won it this season with the New York Knicks) and made the all-defensive second team. The only other Mavs player ever to make an all-defensive team was Derek Harper (twice) more than 20 years ago.
There's plenty of folks within the Mavs organization that believe Marion should have made an all-defensive team for his work this season that for a good stretch included defending some of the game's top point guards. Marion's all-around value last season (he led the Mavs in rebounding at 7.4 a game) can't be overstated, and it's a run that really started last season and through the championship when he played MVP-type defense on Kobe Bryant, then Kevin Durant and then LeBron James.
It's been an interesting three seasons for the Matrix in Dallas. After the first season, which ended with the disappointing first-round exit to the San Antonio Spurs, Marion seemed more like a short-timer here, an aging forward whose better days were behind him and whose long and relatively expensive contract would surely serve only as an albatross.
Now it would seem counterproductive -- and even more unjust -- if the Mavs were to depart with their versatile small forward either by way of the amnesty clause or a trade to create additional cap space.
"I don't know, this is a business. It's a business first," Marion said after the season. "I look at it like that, that's what it is. I know that. I've adjusted to that throughout my career. That's what you have got to take it as first, everything else comes second. It's a business first, it means you've got to have that mindset going into, you know that, that's what you've got to take it as."
If Marion becomes another veteran cast aside in this summer of cap space designed to rebuild quickly around Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavs will have a difficult time replacing the qualities the Matrix delivers on a nightly basis on and off the floor.
The Countdown nears its end at No. 2 ...
Ht./Wt.: 6-foot-7, 228
Experience: 13 years
Age: 34 (May 7, 1978)
2011-12 stats: 10.6 ppg (44.6 FG%), 7.4 rpg,
Contract status: Signed through 2013-14
2011-12 salary: $8.0 million
2012-13 salary: $8.65 million
His story: In his three seasons with the Mavs, Marion has really re-cast his career like few would have believed he could. He made his name with the run-and-gun Suns, rightly or wrongly portrayed as something of a third wheel behind Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire. Once he left Phoenix after eight-and-a-half seasons -- and some near-misses at playing in the NBA Finals -- as part of the deal to Miami that sent Shaquille O'Neal to the desert, Marion's career flattened out. Miami traded Marion to Toronto and then in a convoluted four-team trade, the Mavs acquired Marion on July 9, 2009. In Dallas, he's sacrificed scoring and 3-point shooting (he averaged 18.4 points and more than 230 3-pointers a season in Phoenix) to become more of a post-up player who mostly scores on slashing to the basket and cleaning up around it, and specializes in defense.
His outlook: His chances of remaining in Dallas next season certainly seem much better now than earlier in the season when Marion figured to be the logical choice to be waived via the amnesty clause. After all, as valued as Marion is, it's still harder to go out and get a big body to patrol the paint than to find another small forward. But Brendan Haywood took a significant downturn as the season wore on and he lost favor with the home fans with his mostly non-existent play in the first round against the Thunder. If Mavs management needs to go to the route of the amnesty -- and they will if Deron Williams is going to sign -- then they'll have a lot of explaining to do to the fan base if they amnesty Marion over Haywood. Now, there also is the possibility that Marion could be moved as part of a package deal if it means the Mavs are able to get young impact players in return.
No. 15 Lamar Odom
No. 14 Brian Cardinal
No. 13 Yi Jianlian
No. 12 Dominique Jones
No. 11 Brendan Haywood
No. 10 Kelenna Azubuike
No. 9 Ian Mahinmi
No. 8 Vince Carter
No. 7 Rodrigue Beaubois
No. 6 Brandan Wright
No. 5 Jason Terry
No. 4 Delonte West
No. 3 Jason Kidd
No. 2 Shawn Marion
No. 1 Coming Friday