DALLAS—Shawn Marion had it easy when he broke into the NBA. All he had to do was grab rebounds for Jason Kidd to start fast breaks, then hustle to the other rim to try finishing off those quick scoring chances.
It's been eight years since they were last together in Phoenix and a lot has changed. Marion has gone from rookie to All-Star to journeyman, while Kidd has gone from All-Star in his prime to elder statesman polishing off a Hall of Fame resume.
Now they're teammates again, reunited as part of a new Dallas Mavericks lineup built around versatile 30-somethings seeking their first championship. The master plan would get a big boost if Kidd and Marion can rekindle their old Suns success.
"You will see it," Marion said.
Kidd, Marion and fellow newcomers Drew Gooden, Tim Thomas and Quinton Ross were introduced on their new home court Monday as part of a news conference/fan event that also included the unveiling of a new alternate uniform and upgraded video boards.
Most of the talk was about all the different lineup combinations, with Gooden joking about coming into the league as a small forward but now being viewed as a center. Marion, of course, is nicknamed "The Matrix" because of how many roles he can play.
"Shawn makes the game so easy, especially above the rim, he gets easy baskets," Kidd said. "He can get out there and defend (point guards) through (centers). He's a great teammate in the locker room, so I'm glad to have him by my side."
Kidd spent the last 1 1/2 seasons in Dallas, but was considered an offseason addition because he was a free agent and could've signed anywhere.
Once he decided to stay, owner Mark Cuban, team president Donnie Nelson and coach Rick Carlisle began putting together a supporting cast for Kidd and Nowitzki, players who are certainly in the win-now part of their careers.
The Mavs pried Marion from Toronto as part of a blockbuster trade that didn't cost any key players. Nowitzki, Josh Howard, Jason Terry and Erick Dampier are all back from last season's squad that knocked off San Antonio in the first round, but of course many of their Western Conference foes are improved, too.
"It excites me to have our quarterback (Kidd) back, to have Shawn Marion on one wing, Josh Howard on the other," Nelson said. "We're ready for any challenge that comes our way."
Carlisle figures he already has a better defensive team than last season, calling Marion "one of the best in the league the last 10 years."
Marion averaged 21.8 points and 11.8 rebounds in 2005-06, when the Suns lost to the Mavericks in the Western Conference finals. He was 27 and made the All-Star team for the second year in a row and third time in four years.
Since that peak, Marion has dipped to 12.9 points last season, which began in Miami and ended in Toronto. He's gone from being a franchise player in Phoenix to a role player. It was a tough adjustment, but now that he's been through it he understands how to fit in with the Mavericks.
"Regardless of what I'm doing, what the situation is, I'm a better basketball player than I was before," Marion said. "I've definitely learned the game and I'm going to help everyone around me. That's what it boils down to."
Marion and Howard will trade off as the shooting guard and small forward, perhaps every possession. If they can mesh with each other and with Kidd, defenses will have a harder time loading up to stop Nowitzki.
"Everybody's got to get the chemistry right," Marion said. "That's the most important thing, getting a feel for each other and learning to have fun playing with each other."
Training camp starts Monday, but being on center court with his teammates had Marion ready to lace 'em up. He'd come straight from a workout and was eager to start catching alley-oops from Kidd again.
"I just want to get going," he said. "I want to get everybody out on the court right now and play some pick-up."