Mavericks owner Mark Cuban addressed the media in New Jersey Saturday night, and Earl K. Sneed was there to catch everything he had to say.
NEWARK, N.J. — After watching his team battle its way to a 2-1 record since ending a six-game losing streak, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban held court Saturday night to discuss his squad’s play, a potential roster shakeup and much more.
Cuban, who watched the Mavericks’ last-second 87-86 win in New Jersey from a courtside seat before joining Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov in his personal suite, says that the team appears to finally be getting back on track after leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki was forced to miss nine games with a sprained right knee. That injury occurred just days before the Dallas team would also lose swingman Caron Butler for what’s expected to be the rest of the season due to a ruptured right patellar tendon.
And as the injuries piled up, Cuban says that the Mavs were just forced to hold on as best they could. But now, with five games under Nowitzki’s belt since returning from the injury, the owner believes that the Mavericks (28-15) have turned a corner, despite a 4-10 record in their last 14 games.
“We’re trying to regroup and get better, and that’s what we’ve got to do,” Cuban simply said. “Dirk’s obviously not full strength yet. His knee is fine, but whatever explosiveness he has left he’s got to get some of that back. And that’s just not there, that comes with time.”
Cuban added: “It’s not a perfect situation, but after you have those kinds of injuries it’s never gonna be. It’s gonna take some time.”
With Nowitzki rounding back into form after knocking down the game-winning jumper Saturday night with 6.0 seconds remaining, Cuban says that the Mavericks should continue to improve as they begin a four-game homestand Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.
But first, the owner believes that two transactions could be in the works to help with the squad's facelift.
With a deal apparently already worked out to bring in sharpshooter Peja Stojakovic after he clears waivers, the Mavericks also are expected to send big man Alexis Ajinca to Toronto. Both transactions could occur as soon as Monday according to Cuban, after Stojakovic negotiated a buyout from the Raptors and gave the Dallas front office a thumbs up for a pending signing.
But both deals are on hold pending the NBA’s approval following an examination over the inner workings, after complaints surfaced from other teams around the league.
“They were completely separate independent deals, one had nothing to do with the other,” Cuban explained. “But obviously I think a lot of teams are upset because we got the jump on them.”
And while those deals continue to manifest themselves, the owner also says that he hasn’t ruled out making another blockbuster move before the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
“It depends on the other 29 teams and what they offer us. For a good deal, I’d trade myself,” Cuban joked.
Until then, however, the owner says that he has just one goal for the team as it continues to regain its health following derailing injuries that disrupted a 24-5 start. And that one goal is paramount.
“Like I say every year,” Cuban said, “we just want to be healthy and playing well at the end of the year.”
Note: The Mavericks return to Dallas to face Rookie of the Year favorite Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night. The Clippers-Mavericks showdown will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting the American Airlines Center box office, logging on to Mavs.com or by calling 214-747-MAVS (6287).
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