- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki won't go quite as far as Mark Cuban, who claims the Dallas Mavericks are better off because of Deron Williams' decision to decline the franchise's max offer in free agency, but he's still excited about the upcoming season.
Nowitzki acknowledges he was disappointed the Mavs weren't able to pull off their plan of pairing him with a proven superstar but is intrigued and optimistic about the potluck supporting cast assembled this summer.
"Unfortunately or whatever, last year we had some big fish available and we didn't get them," Nowitzki said. "So you can do either two things: Blow the whole thing up and start over or you've got to keep signing guys to shorter contracts to stay a player in the free-agency market the following year. That's the route we took.
"I still think, for that, we have a heck of a team. For basically saying we want to be a player next summer, we still put a decent product out there. We're going to compete and see what happens."
The Mavs reacted to missing out on Williams, who opted to move to Brooklyn with the Nets, by waiting for the market to settle and acquiring several veterans on short-term deals.
They claimed forward/center Elton Brand in the amnesty waivers process, traded for point guard Darren Collison and shooting guard Dahntay Jones, re-signed guard Delonte West and signed center Chris Kaman and shooting guard O.J. Mayo.
All of those players are expected to play significant roles. Collison, Mayo and Kaman are penciled into the starting lineup, and Brand will serve as the Mavs' sixth man.
The Mavs' moves certainly weren't as impressive as those made by the Los Angeles Lakers, who traded for Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to give them a starting five that Nowitzki says "looks like an All-Star starting lineup."
"I think we're going to be good," said Nowitzki, who joins Shawn Marion as the only players remaining from the 2010-11 championship roster who logged playoff minutes. "We're going to still be a tough team to beat. Where we end up, I have no idea. I think the West is stacked, especially on the top. It's going to be tough to crack those top two or three up there, but we're sure going to try."
The Mavs fell well short of that goal last season, when they squeaked into the playoffs as a seventh seed and were swept out of the first round by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Nowitzki had his worst statistical season since his second year in the NBA, averaging 21.6 points and 6.8 rebounds, while shooting 45.7 percent from the floor. He readily admits that he reported to an abbreviated training camp in poor condition by his standards after the lockout, and knee soreness was a problem before missing four games to focus on conditioning.
Nowitzki called that a lesson learned and adjusted his offseason conditioning regimen. He says he's in excellent shape, which is another reason he's optimistic about the remodeled Mavs' chances.
"We're looking forward to a good season," Nowitzki said. "I feel good. That's a big chunk. If I feel good, we're going to be OK."
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