Mark Cuban has been known as a risk-taker during his tenure as the owner of the Dallas Mavericks. But Cuban won't risk trading reigning MVP Dirk Nowitzki in an effort to acquire disgruntled Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant.
According to The Dallas Morning News, Cuban said he will not trade Nowitzki, even if it meant he could get Bryant in return. Cuban spoke about the Bryant situation at a North Dallas dance studio, where he was taking a break from rehersals with Kym Johnson, his Dancing With the Stars partner.
"I still haven't talked to [Lakers owner] Jerry Buss," Cuban told the newspaper. "So until that happens, nothing can happen."
The Mavericks were an NBA-best 67-15 last season, but were shocked in the first round of the playoffs by the Golden State Warriors and lost the series 4-2. Dallas made minor adjustments to its roster since that loss, including signing veteran guard Eddie Jones and trading for the defensive-minded Trenton Hassell, but Cuban has otherwise kept his team in tact.
"If and when I talk to Jerry, I'll make it clear that we're not going to trade Dirk," Cuban told the newspaper. "And we're not going to dismantle our team. Kobe's one of the top players in the league. But without the right team around him, he's in the same position he was in Los Angeles.
"So you don't want to just shuffle the deck chairs. Either you're making an improvement to your team or you don't do it. And with a team that won 67 games last year, it's tough to improve significantly."
Bryant asked to be traded 4½ months ago, then avoided speaking about the Lakers until the beginning of training camp Oct. 1, when he talked more positively, saying he was looking forward to the season.
He played in Thursday night's 126-106 win over Seattle, but hadn't practiced since Saturday because of a sore knee.
"The knee feels pretty good," Bryant said after Thursday's game. "We just need to make sure we stay on top of it. That's why I came out and iced it. We're just going to monitor it and keep it under control."
Bryant appeared upbeat when he spoke to reporters before the game. He had mostly ignored the media since Lakers owner Jerry Buss stated last week that he "would certainly listen" to trade offers for the two-time defending NBA scoring champion.
When asked about his recent silent treatment, Bryant said: "Why would I need to bang my head against a wall?"
He missed some practice this week because of a sore knee, then said in his first formal interview since Buss' statement that it caught him off guard.
He repeated again on Thursday his desire to not discuss the matter.
"When I'm here, wherever I'm at, I'm ready to go," Bryant said. "It's not my job to worry about what management is doing at this point. I voiced my frustrations over the summer and I'll just leave it there."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.