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Unlike last year, Mark Cuban likes Mavs

If you judge purely on record, the Mavericks aren’t quite as good as they were a year ago. That, however, isn't the way owner Mark Cuban sees it.

After the injury-induced recent slump, the Mavs are 27-15 a little more than midway through the season. That’s one fewer win than they had at this point last season.

Cuban made it clear a year ago that he thought the Mavs needed a significant shakeup. He basically told the world that a blockbuster trade was coming well in advance of the All-Star Weekend deal with the Wizards.

“Yeah, because I didn’t like our team as much once we got into it,” Cuban said. “It’s not the case here.”

That’s not to say that the Mavs won’t make a significant deal -- and signing Peja Stojakovic for the NBA equivalent of peanuts doesn’t qualify. Cuban and Co. will continue to aggressively explore their options in the trade market.

But Cuban points to last season’s Celtics, who started fast and fought through a midseason slump before making it to the Finals, as proof that not panicking can pay off. He remains optimistic that the Mavs can make a playoff run with healthy versions of Dirk Nowitzki and Rodrigue Beaubois.

Plus, Cuban is encouraged by the all-for-one atmosphere in the Mavs’ locker room. Cuban won’t put it this harshly, but it’s no secret that Josh Howard was killing the Mavs’ chemistry before he was moved to Washington.

“I don’t look at it and say, ‘We’ve got problems,’” Cuban said. “Last year, I did. But we’re a better team.”