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DALLAS On Monday, the Mavericks were ready to move on from a season that ended a lot sooner than they had hoped.

'The last game was disappointing, but I just loved the way the team battled all year long,' Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said.

'I'm really, really, proud of these guys,' added Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson. 'I know our expectation was to go further, but the way they fought... the way they represented the franchise and our city... I'm just really, really, proud.'

The team's focus during the off-season will first be on their six free agents. Dirk Nowitzki is one of those, but he said he's not going anywhere.

Shawn Marion would like to come back and retire in two years, and 37-year old-Vince Carter who played 81 games would like to be back with the Mavs as well. He said this late in his career, it's not about the money.

'The situation matters,' Carter said. 'I don't want to play free, so other than that, just the right situation is what it's all about.'

'We'd love to have all these guys back, but we'll have to wait and see what happens in free agency,' Nowitzki said.

If there is a common theme as to how the Mavericks expect to treat their free agents during the off-season, it's simple: They want to bring them all back and avoid the wholesale changes that we've here the last couple of years.

'I've actually never experienced free agency,' Marion said. 'After your 15th year in the league, it's a weird feeling, I guess.'

'It's something I'm not used to doing so it's going to take some time to work it best I can,' mavericks guard Devin Harris said. 'I'm happy here, and like I said, I want to come back. I think winning is most important in my career more than anything else.'

E-mail griba@wfaa.com

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