Why Mavs couldn't keep Marion for minimum

If Shawn Marion was going to take the minimum, Cleveland was the best possible fit for him. Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks would have been thrilled to re-sign Shawn Marion for the veteran’s minimum.

That’s what Marion got to join LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers next season.

So why didn’t Dallas keep Marion for the minimum? Because that was never an option for the Mavs.

“It’s different when you’re going back to your same team as supposed to going to a new team,” Mavs owner Mark Cuban said on ESPN 103.3 FM’s “The Afternoon Show with Cowlishaw and Mosley” on Thursday. “I think there’s a different dynamic and different expectation.

“I have a great relationship with Shawn. We’ve kept in touch. We messaged yesterday. He just thought that he wanted to go to somebody that he thought, and this was all prior to signing Chandler [Parsons] and everything, that he thought was closer to a ring particularly in the Eastern Conference. He decided to go that route and we wish him nothing but the best. Trix is a champion in our eyes and always will be.”

Marion, a consummate professional during his five seasons in Dallas and a critical piece of the Mavs’ 2011 title team, said at the end of last season that his preference was to re-sign with the franchise. Asked what it would take for the Mavs to keep him, Marion said, “Not much.”

But Marion also said at the time that his primary goal was to enhance his legacy by winning another championship in next two seasons before he plans to retire.

Behind the scenes, Marion respectfully made it clear that he wasn’t eager to return to Dallas as a reserve with a significantly reduced role. He also hoped to get a salary in the neighborhood of $5 million to play for a contender, but he’s made more than $130 million during his career and never made money the priority during this free-agency process.

Marion will likely come off the bench and play far fewer minutes in Cleveland than he did in Dallas. But as Cuban said, the dynamics are much different when a proud veteran changes teams and accepts a smaller role instead of doing so while staying with the same team.

Plus, the Cavs could be considered the overall favorites to win the NBA title. If Marion was going to take the minimum, Cleveland was the best possible fit for him, as much as he loved his time with the Mavs.