Vet Mavs not moping about 'business of basketball'
The potential pursuit of Dwight Howard and Deron Williams dominates the headlines. Meanwhile, the Mavs are right in the mix of Western Conference contenders again with Dirk Nowitzki and a bunch of guys who aren’t guaranteed to return next season.
The Mavs, who saw six of the title-winning teammates go after the lockout, are well aware of the distinct possibility that the Dallas roster will look drastically different next season. They just aren’t worried about it.
All the ring-owning Mavs want to do is win. They accept that they have no control over what happens next.
“We’re definitely aware of it because you’ve got to know the business that you’re in, but at the same time, you can’t let it affect your play,” big man Brendan Haywood said. “You have to come out there and play basketball and not worry about it. We’re aware of the situation. It is what it is. It’s the business of basketball.”
Added Shawn Marion: “Nobody in here is worried about this summer. All we’re focused on is the current team.”
Haywood and Marion understand that they’re prime candidates for the amnesty clause or to be moved in a cost-cutting trade if the Mavs decide to clear out space under the salary cap this season. They’d prefer to stay in Dallas, but they’re professionals who understand that this sort of uncertainty is part of the deal with their seven-figure salaries.
The summer uncertainty certainly hasn’t affected their performance. Marion has arguably been the 21-14 Mavs’ MVP as their most consistent and versatile player this season. Haywood has been the backbone of a top-five defensive team, stepping up after the business of basketball took Tyson Chandler to the Big Apple months after the inspirational leader served as the final piece in the Mavs’ championship puzzle.
Jason Terry has made it clear he hopes to retire as a Maverick, but he gets that the choice might not be his as he enters free agency this summer. Terry, who shares an agent, Dan Fegan, with Howard and Marion, said he’s focused on the task at hand and will wait for the front office to figure things out this summer.
Owner Mark Cuban isn’t making any promises. He also isn’t stressing about whether all the speculation will have an impact on a veteran-loaded locker room.
“We’ve got a bunch of grown-up guys and they’ve been around me long enough to know that I don’t pull any punches,” Cuban said. “They know I want to win. And they also know no decision has been made on anything. We’ve maintained some flexibility, but there’s nothing that says we won’t keep all the same guys and do it again.”
The one Maverick who might be letting all the summer uncertainty get to his head isn’t around right now. Nobody knows what Lamar Odom, whose contract can be bought out for $2.4 million this summer, is thinking.
Everybody knows, however, how hurt Odom was by the Lakers trying to trade him for Chris Paul. That wounded the longtime Laker so much that he refused to report to training camp and demanded to be traded, getting dealt to Dallas days later.
If Odom is pouting again, that makes him an exception among the Mavericks. Everyone else on the roster, regardless of their personal situations, is all-in on chasing another ring.
“We know we have a chance,” Haywood said. “That’s the farthest thing from our mind, as far as what happens this summer. Depending on what you do now, you can have a good summer or a bad summer. We had a lot of guys last year that played well. They’re not here, but they had great summers.
“What you do now [determines] whether it’s going to be a happy summer or a summer of somber.”
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