Role for Mavs in 2013-14: The 15-year veteran remains the Mavs’ starting small forward and the primary backup to Dirk Nowitzki at power forward. Marion, a four-time All-Star during his time with the Phoenix Suns, has transitioned into a gritty role player during the later years of his career. He’s the Mavs’ best and most versatile defensive player and has led them in rebounding the last two seasons, averaging 7.8 boards per game last season.
Marion doesn’t have many plays designed for him, but he’s an effective cutter who scores often on unconventional floaters and an outstanding finisher. He averaged 12.1 points per game last season, shooting 51.4 percent from the floor. It’s reasonable to project him to produce like that again, particularly with the Mavs’ major upgrade at point guard.
What happened this summer?: Marion didn’t exercise his right to opt out of the final year of his contract. That certainly wasn’t surprising, although the best-case scenario for the Mavs would have been for Marion to opt out to create enough salary-cap space to sign fellow Dan Fegan client Dwight Howard, then re-sign for a lower salary over multiple years. That would have been flirting with breaking NBA rules since the deadline for Marion’s decision was the day before free agency opened, and it ultimately didn’t matter since the Mavs weren’t Howard’s choice. Marion’s name floated around in trade rumors, but Mark Cuban consistently insisted that he wanted Marion to continue to be part of the Mavs’ core.
What does the future hold?: Marion declines to discuss whether he sees himself playing next season. He’s arguably had a Hall of Fame career, but he seems to have plenty left in the tank, whether he stays in Dallas or signs with another team next summer.
Bottom line: Marion, one of two players remaining from the 2011 championship roster, is a versatile, valuable veteran frequently described as a “warrior” around the American Airlines Center.