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Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Mark Cuban: Lakers 'winning the summer' means little

By Tim MacMahon



DALLAS – Mark Cuban isn’t going to crown any NBA team in September.

That’s especially true for a team that will be blending two new major pieces into its core.

The Los Angeles Lakers hogged offseason headlines by acquiring a pair of potential Hall of Famers (point guard Steve Nash and center Dwight Howard) to play with proven champions Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. However, Cuban cited recent history as proof that offseason splashes don’t guarantee postseason celebrations.

“The Lakers have done this before. Gary Payton and Karl Malone and Kobe and Shaq were all together, and it didn’t work,” said Cuban, referring to the 2003-04 Lakers who lost in the Finals while responding to a fan’s question about so-called super teams Monday. “It takes great chemistry. ... It takes guys wanting to be there. I don’t know if all their guys want to be there.”

Hmmm ... wonder whether he’s referring to a certain indecisive big man to whom the Mavs could offer a max contract if he explores the free agency market next summer?

“It’s going to be interesting,” Cuban continued. “Look, they’re going to have a great team, but I remember when we made our run, we weren’t supposed to win any series. Remember the Lakers were the defending champs, and we swept them and they had everybody back.

“A lot of teams do a great job of winning the summer, but I never get so antsy about what happens over the summer. I just want to know what happens during the season. As long as we keep on getting better and we’re healthy going into the playoffs, then anything can happen.”

There was no way the Mavs were going to win the summer after Deron Williams decided to move to Brooklyn with the Nets instead of coming home to play in Dallas.

The Nets are another team that got a lot of attention in July. They convinced Williams to remain the face of their franchise in part by trading for Joe Johnson despite his monster contract and re-signing Gerald Wallace to a rich deal.

“I never get too excited about what teams do on paper,” said Cuban, who claims he believes in hindsight the Mavs are better off without signing Williams to a max deal that would have eaten up all their cap space. “It all comes down to what you do on the court, and I think we’ve put ourselves in great position to really do good things this year and I think we’ve put ourselves in position to keep our players, so when they do great things, they can all grow together. And that’s our goal.

“Again, the Lakers will do what the Lakers do. The Nets or whoever will do what they do. But I think we’ve put ourselves in great position.”

The Mavs haven’t put themselves in position to be considered preseason contenders in the West.

The Lakers are a popular pick, but there’s still a pretty good chance that the West champion will be located on Interstate 35. The Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs -- the Mavs’ not-so-friendly neighbors to the north and south, respectively -- return their rosters from last season’s West finals pretty much intact.

The revamped Mavs are also-rans on paper. Cuban and the men on his payroll hope to prove that perception wrong on the court.