If Caron Butler's back spasms subside for Friday night's home game against the Philadelphia 76ers, expect Shawn Marion to return to the bench after his 20-point, seven-rebound performance as a starter in Memphis on Wednesday.
Marion has consistently made the point that if he's a focal point in the offense that he can still score like he used to during his days with the Phoenix Suns. Against the Grizzlies he made a season-high 10 shots on a season-high 15 attempts, nearly double his shot output this season as a reserve. Of course, he also logged nearly 35 minutes in Memphis, almost eight more than he's averaging off the bench. On Monday against Boston, Marion took a season-low two shot attempts.
"My teammates got me involved and we were out there feeding off of each other and just doing what we've got to do to get a win," Marion said of avenging the Oct. 29 home loss to the Grizzlies. "We have a very talented team. Everybody is capable of going out there and having a big night.''
The Mavs are waiting for Butler to have his breakout. The 6-foot-7 small forward in the final year of his contract is averaging 14.7 points through six games (he left Monday's game in third quarter with back spasms). Only once has Butler made half of the shots he attempted in a game and he is stuck on 39.1-percent shooting from the floor.
His 84 field-goal attempts rank third on the team, just 12 shots behind Jason Terry -- in one less game -- who has made 20 more shots. Marion has made three fewer baskets on 25 fewer attempts. Jason Kidd is the only rotation player shooting a lower percentage (34.7), but Kidd has put half as many attempts and isn't needed to score in bulk as is Butler.
But, that doesn't mean Marion is the more logical choice to start.
Marion has handled the move to the bench with grace and a team-first attitude when at least some outsiders viewed it with trepidation. There's no reason to stir things up by asking Butler to now come off the bench, a move he probably wouldn't welcome.
During an ESPNDallas.com chat prior to the start of training camp, Butler was asked if the team had plans to bring him off the bench. Butler stated that he's not at a point in his career where that move makes sense. Plus, the Mavs want Butler on the floor and performing well, not only to accomplish team goals, but to elevate Butler's value in the case his $10.8-million expiring contract can be flipped in a beneficial trade.