With his heart in Dallas, Shawn Marion enters free agency focused on 2nd title

DALLAS — Entering this season as just one of two remaining players from the Dallas Mavericks’ 2011 NBA championship team, four-time All-Star forward Shawn Marion shared a special bond with frontcourt teammate Dirk Nowitzki.

Teaming up alongside Nowitzki for five seasons, Marion shared the Mavericks’ lows with the 12-time All-Star before experiencing the ultimate high together during that title run. The two now both enter free agency this offseason, linked by a bond that Marion says will never be broken.

“Man, me and Dirk, we’re bonded together for life. We’re champions,” Marion said while grinning from ear to ear. “It’s awesome. Dirk is a special player. I’ve gotten to play with him for five years and we’ve done some amazing things on that court together. We’re definitely good friends, and like I said, we’re bonded together for life. … It was great bringing a championship to a city that well deserved it and it was long overdue.”

However, with the Mavericks expected to pull out all the stops to re-sign Nowitzki, will Marion’s time in Dallas come to an end?

In his five seasons with the Mavs, Marion emerged as the team’s defensive catalyst while often guarding the opposition’s best perimeter player. And despite turning 36 years old on May 7, the aging veteran also showed that he still has plenty left in the tank, averaging 10.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.2 steals in his 76 outings this season.

With that said, the Mavericks’ front office figures to have plenty of decisions to make as the team tries to return all six of its free agents to next year’s squad. And with Nowitzki and 37-year-old sixth man Vince Carter also set to hit the open market on July 1, the Mavs will have work to do in order to keep Marion in the fold.

“You know, Shawn was a key component of not only our current success but bringing a championship here,” Mavs president of basketball operations and GM Donnie Nelson explained. “You know, obviously, there’s lots of decisions on his side and on ours, but we would love to have him continue and ride off into the sunset with guys like Dirk and Vince.”

Welcoming his first son, Shawn, into the world this season, Marion now vows to play just two more years before hanging up his sneakers for good. However, with Marion entering free agency for the first time in his 15-year career, it remains to be seen where those final seasons will be played as the Mavs now figure to find themselves in a bidding war for the versatile forward’s services.

Still, Marion says money will not be his motivating factor as he listens to potential suitors, pursuing a second title to further cement his legacy.

“I’ve actually never really experienced free agency,” a modest Marion said. “You know, after your 15th year in the league it’s a weird feeling. But, you know, I’m not even thinking about that. When July 1 comes I’ll just look at my options and see which one is best suited for me to add to my legacy. 

“You know, it’s not about money right now. I’ve made a lot of money in my career and I’ve been truly blessed. You know, I take none of this for granted, and I think I’ve just got to weigh my options. I think when it’s all said and done, of course, I think we’re close here and not too far. But I think we’ve got a lot of guys here that are free agents again, so it’s going to be interesting. We’re going to see what’s out there and what’s available, and I’ve just got to weigh it out. I’m going to put it in God’s hands.”