DALLAS — All set to turn 35 years old on May 7, Shawn Marion knows he’s on the backside of what has been a long and fruitful career.Thus, the Dallas Mavericks’ veteran forward has no choice but to look beyond this season. And beyond next season, after which he becomes a free agent .Marion is a bulldog defender who can guard four positions. He also can score between 15-20 points a game.That combination makes Marion a valuable asset for a team searching for a veteran who could come of the bench and help win a title. But Marion has no idea where free agency will take him beyond 2014, or if he’ll retire then.“If I feel like I want to go play some more and I think I’ve got the opportunities to go and help somebody and compete for a contender, anything is possible,” Marion said. “You’ve got to be optimistic right now and be looking at the future.“When you play as many years as we’ve played — especially the vets — and you’ve got 13, 14 and 15 years in the league, you don’t have much left in the tank. So you’ve got to look at what you want to do and how you want to leave your legacy, how you want to go out and what terms you want.”Coach Rick Carlisle has often said Marion is among the most unappreciated players in the NBA. Carlisle marvels at what Marion has been able to accomplish at both ends of the court — and all without seeking fame and without complaints.“Marion’s on a roll here,” Carlisle said. “He’s scoring, he’s rebounding, he’s making plays.”Earlier this season Marion joined Hakeem Olajuwon, Karl Malone and Kevin Garnett as the only players in NBA history to score at least 16,000 points, grab at least 9,000 rebounds, pick up at least 1,500 steals and block at least 1,000 shots.Marion helped the Mavericks win the NBA title in 2011 and would like to win another one before he hangs up his sneakers. That’s what drives the 14-year veteran — the chase for another title and more jewelry and more personal gratification.“Most guys keep playing primarily because a lot of guys want to go into coaching afterward, or anything dealing with the NBA,” Marion said. “It depends on what you want to do when your career is over with.“I want to go out with a bang. At the same time I feel like I’ve got a lot of basketball left in me.”When the Mavericks acquired Marion from Toronto on July 9, 2009, it was as if he was a hired gun.“My goal, coming here, when I signed my deal to come here was to help this team win a championship,” Marion said. “I was the missing piece to help this team win a championship, and we did that.“It would have been nice to win another one back-to-back — we could have done it — but unfortunately it didn’t happen. But at the same time, though, we all made sacrifices that season to better that team and we prevailed and we were able to accomplish the dream that we all wanted.”With their playoff chances faint, the Mavericks (38-39) play the Phoenix Suns (23-54) at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at American Airlines Center. Meanwhile, Marion is pondering a future in basketball that is winding to a close.“I can’t play basketball forever,” said Marion, who averages a team-high 7.8 rebounds per game. “I’ve got to have a little life. It’s been a great run so far and when it comes at an end, it’s going to come to an end sooner than later.”Carlisle salutes PitinoOn Monday morning, Louisville coach Rick Pitino was chosen to be inducted this fall into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Several hours later, his Cardinals defeated Michigan to win this year’s NCAA title.And that came less than a week after Pitino’s son, Richard, was named the head coach at the University of Minnesota.“I’d say the guy’s had a good week,” said Rick Carlisle, who played the 1987-88 season under Pitino with the New York Knicks. “He’s the only coach ever to coach two teams to national championships at two different schools, so the guy is a phenomenal, phenomenal coach.“Really, it’s the strength of his will, I believe, that got them through it [Monday] night. It’s one of the things that makes him one of the special coaches that’s ever coached.”Nowitzki, Brand to playForward Dirk Nowitzki did some running and other light workouts Tuesday as he tries to recover from soreness he encountered in his left foot and ankle Sunday at Portland.Center Elton Brand, who has missed the past three games with a sore right calf, was able to practice.Both players could play Wednesday against the Suns.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @dwainprice