Shawn Marion (a.k.a. “The Matrix”) chats with The Scores Report

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Shawn Marion is a four-time All-Star and a two-time All-NBA performer. He is one of the league’s most athletic and versatile players, which is why TNT’s Kenny Smith nicknamed him “The Matrix” early in his rookie season. As a testament to his versatility, he has led the league in steals twice and has finished in the top 10 in rebounding six times.

The peak of Marion’s career came in Phoenix, as he thrived in Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo system. But Marion was an All-Star before D’Antoni took over in Phoenix. The guy can flat out play.

After spending last season in Miami and Toronto, Marion is now with the Dallas Mavericks, joining Jason Kidd, Josh Howard and Dirk Nowitzki for what owner Mark Cuban hopes will be a title run. Marion sat down with The Scores Report to talk about his new team, his prowess on the offensive glass, and why the Suns traded him away.

TSR: Thanks for chatting with The Scores Report, Shawn. We just spoke with your former teammate, Dwyane Wade, a couple of weeks ago. He seems like a really nice guy.

SM: Yeah, he’s my man.

TSR: I’d first like to ask you about joining the Dallas Mavericks. How do you think you’ll fit in?

SM: I think I’ll fit in very well.

TSR: What made you pick the Mavs?

SM: J-Kidd and Dirk tried to get me down there for like over a year now. But I wasn’t able to go directly to them, so they had to make some maneuvers and work out a sign and trade. That’s what it was.

TSR: How do you think the team will change now that you’re a Mav? Dallas was in the middle of the pack in terms of pace last season – do you see the team pushing the ball more to best utilize your skills?

SM: I think we’ll do a little bit of everything. I’m just going to come in and try to help the team in every aspect of the game, and that’s it really. That sums it up.

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Shawn Marion headed to Dallas

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As part of a complicated four-team trade, it looks as if Shawn Marion is about to become a Maverick.

The deal, according to sources, calls for the Mavericks to acquire Marion and Kris Humphries from Toronto and Greg Buckner from Memphis, with Marion to receive a five-year contract worth an estimated $39 million. Buckner has had two previous stints with the Mavericks but is likely to be released, sources said.

The Grizzlies will land Jerry Stackhouse from Dallas and a substantial cash payment to buy out Stackhouse’s contract. Only $2 million of Stackhouse’s $7.25 million salary next season is guaranteed, as long as he is waived by Aug. 10.

The Raptors will receive Devean George and Antoine Wright from the Mavericks, while also preserving their $5.9 million mid-level exception for the coming season by turning their acquisition of Turkoglu — who is getting a five-year deal worth an estimated $53 million — into a sign-and-trade as opposed to an outright signing. Assembling the trade this way could also enable Toronto to re-sign Carlos Delfino, after it appeared that the Raptors would have to renounce Delfino to help make room for the Turkoglu signing.

The Magic, meanwhile, were motivated to join in the trade because their participation, as opposed to merely letting Turkoglu walk, will create a valuable trade exception they can use in future deals worth around $7 million.

Mark Cuban is arguably the most polarizing owner in the league, but he isn’t afraid to try to make his team better. Whether it’s an ill-advised Jason Kidd-for-Devin Harris swap, the mid-level signing of Marcin Gortat or working out this sign-and-trade to land Marion, Cuban has always been willing to do what’s necessary to win.

With these moves, Dallas can start Marion at small forward next to Dirk Nowitzki and shift Josh Howard to shooting guard, with Sixth Man Award winner Jason Terry staying in a bench role. The Mavericks also believe that they will have a strong small-ball unit when they elect not to play Gortat or Erick Dampier, featuring Howard at small forward, Marion at power forward and Nowitzki at center.

$8 million per year for five years is a lot to pay for a 31-year-old, but Cuban knows that Nowitzki’s window is closing and the Mavericks’ time is now. Dallas now has a formidable starting lineup — Kidd, Howard, Marion, Nowitzki and Gortat — that has features four All-Stars, with Terry, J.J. Barea, Matt Carroll and Dampier coming off the bench. It will be interesting to see if the Mavs are able (or willing) to retain Brandon Bass, who is a free agent this summer.

Steve Nash wants to stay in Phoenix

Eliminated from the playoffs, it’s time for the Phoenix Suns to look forward to next season. For his part, Steve Nash says that he would like to stay

After missing the playoffs, Nash could decline an extension if he is unhappy with the offer or the off-season plan. He wants to play four more seasons.

“My first priority is to sit down and listen to Steve and (Suns Managing Partner) Robert (Sarver) and hear what their wish is and what their plan is for the team,” Nash said. “I can be a part of us revamping here.

“I’m under the impression they want to talk an extension, and I do, too. Hopefully we can find ourselves in a position where we can revamp and be back in the playoffs and hopefully be a contender. Hopefully I’ll be a part of the plan.”

Nash, 35, still is a special offensive player. If he maintains his fifth consecutive 50 percent field-goal shooting season in the final two games, Nash would become the first player in NBA history to record three seasons in which he shot 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the free-throw line. Nash went from averaging 13.8 points under Porter to 19.1 once interim Alvin Gentry restored the team’s Nash-and-dash style. Nash’s assist-to-turnover ratio went from 2.6 -to 1 to 3.7 -to 1.

I have been critical of the Suns’ brass — namely Steve Kerr — all season long.

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Marc Stein’s trade talk: Amare, Tyson, Richard Jefferson and more

The trade deadline is Thursday, and trade talk is really heating up. Marc Stein gives us the latest.

Two rival executives we spoke with Sunday night immediately wondered whether the Suns’ decision to replace Terry Porter with Alvin Gentry would convince Phoenix to “tap the brakes,” as one put it, on its Stoudemire talks. If the Suns are going to try to recapture a semblance of what they had under Mike D’Antoni, with the only holdover from D’Antoni’s staff taking over, you can understand why Gentry would prefer to have Stoudemire for the rest of the season to help the cause.

Stoudemire is still under contract for another season, so it wouldn’t hurt the Suns if they wanted to see what Gentry could do with this group before moving their star player over the summer. I’d say that the Porter firing makes it more likely that Stoudemire stays put, though I’d still put the chances at better than 50/50 that Amare is moved before the trade deadline.


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Raptors and Heat make O’Neal/Marion swap

If this trade had happened a few years ago, it would have been a blockbuster.

The Toronto Raptors have agreed to send Jermaine O’Neal and Jamario Moon to the Miami Heat in exchange for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks, league sources told ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher.

The deal is pending league approval, according to sources, and if approved, would be announced later Friday afternoon.

Rumors about this deal broke a few weeks ago, but died down when all the Amare Stoudemire talk started.

The trade makes sense for both sides. The Jermaine O’Neal experiment was not working in Toronto, and by trading for Marion, they get out from underneath O’Neal’s giant contract, which runs one more year at the tune of $23 million. The Heat have been looking for a center since Shaq left, and O’Neal can be that guy. If he can post 18/10 and be a presence on the defensive end, the Heat will be a dangerous team come playoff time. The fact that his contract ends after next season still leaves Miami with plenty of cap room to sign another big name to go along with Dwyane Wade and Michael Beasley in the summer of 2010. The Heat were also able to unload Marcus Banks’ contract and they got a pretty good small forward (Moon) as part of the deal.

In Miami, Marion was not fitting in very well and his numbers were down across the board. Toronto likes to push the ball, so if Marion can get back to his old play, they might keep him around in the offseason (assuming he doesn’t ask for a contract that will break the bank). If not, Toronto will have about $13 million in cap space this summer.

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