Deadline passes without Shawn Marion opting out

Shawn Marion is still a Maverick … at least for now.

The deadline passed without Marion exercising the early termination option in his contract, according to a source, meaning the Mavericks need to create an additional $2.73 million of space under the salary cap to be able to sign Dwight Howard to a max contract.

Marion is due to make $9.32 million in 2013-14, the final season of his five-year contract.

A best-case scenario for the Mavs would have been Marion, whose agent Dan Fegan also represents Howard, opting out of his contract and returning to the Mavs on a multi-year deal with a lower annual salary. However, NBA rules expressly forbid negotiating that type of deal before the player officially becomes a free agent, as the league office recently reminded the Mavs.

If Howard chooses the Mavs over the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets or other suitors, the most likely scenario is that the Mavs would trade Marion for no, or significantly less, returning salary.

Marion, the Mavs’ most versatile player and best defender, is Dirk Nowitzki’s lone remaining teammate from the 2011 title team. Other core players from that team, such as Tyson Chandler, Jason Terry and J.J. Barea, left via free agency when the Mavs opted not to make competitive offers because Mark Cuban wanted to create the kind of financial flexibility necessary to sign a superstar such as Howard.

“We’ll cross that bridge once we get there,” Nowitzki said this week of potentially trading Marion. “If Dwight really says he’d love to be here, he’d love to come and this is where he wants to play, then that’s something we have to address then. Now I don’t think we have to address that.

“I loved playing with all of my championship teammates. We had a great team and chemistry. I was sad seeing all of them go. It would be the same if we did part ways with [Marion]. We’ve been through a lot. We’re the same age and we almost came into the league together. We’ve seen a lot together in this league and we won the ring together. It’s been a great ride together. We’ll see how far we can still take it. We’ll just have to wait and see.”