- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
DALLAS -- Owner Mark Cuban doesn't believe the Dallas Mavericks need to make a deal before the Feb. 24 trade deadline to be legitimate contenders.
That isn't an indication that the Mavs, who sit in the Western Conference's second seed, will abstain from trade talk through All-Star Weekend and into next week. But the man who pulled off blockbuster trades during two of the previous three All-Star breaks doesn't have an itchy trigger finger after watching the Mavs win 12 of the last 13 games.
"I'm going to be opportunistic, and if somebody comes along and makes an offer we can't refuse, I'm going to grab it," Cuban said. "But there's not as much a sense of urgency to do something as there was last year."
Cuban, of course, hasn't always been completely forthcoming when discussing his team's intentions in the trade market. He shot down reports that the Mavs were in serious discussions with the New Jersey Nets three years ago until a complicated multi-player deal had been agreed upon. The Mavs had lost five of nine games before that deal, which sent Devin Harris to New Jersey.
However, Cuban made it clear he felt that the Mavs' core needed to be altered in the weeks leading up to last season's All-Star break. The Mavericks were in the midst of a month-and-a-half long stretch of mediocrity when they made the seven-player trade with the Washington Wizards, which brought Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson to Dallas.
At that point, the Mavs had won only 10 of their previous 21 games. They were a struggling team with significant chemistry concerns, which were addressed by sending disgruntled and disengaged forward Josh Howard to Washington.
"It's different circumstances obviously," Cuban said. "We've really had a lot of people step up this year. We really didn't have that last year."
The Mavericks have also been able to make two major additions recently without giving up any players: the signing of small forward Peja Stojakovic after 13-year veteran received a buyout from the Toronto Raptors and the season debut of dynamic young guard Rodrigue Beaubois after a lengthy recovery from a broken left foot.
Stojakovic has been a starter since his first appearance in a Mavericks uniform. He shot poorly during his first three games for Dallas, which came after a two-month layoff to deal with a sore left knee, but he has 34 points on 13-of-23 shooting in the last two games.
Beaubois, who showed flashes of brilliance as a raw rookie last season and was primed for a much bigger role before breaking his foot in August, dazzled during his season debut in Wednesday's win over the Sacramento Kings. He had 13 points, six assists and three steals in 21 minutes.
Cuban hoped he'd get a longer look at the Mavs with Beaubois before the All-Star break to give the team's brass a chance to evaluate the roster at full strength. However, Cuban has seen enough to be convinced that the 39-16 Mavs are potential champions.
"Absolutely. Absolutely," said Cuban, who is more concerned with the Mavs' tendency to blow big leads than the talent on the roster. "We're playing well. We've got some potential.
"I think we have the ability to win a championship, but we have a long way to go before we're ready to win a championship. We've got to play every possession with discipline, and we're not there yet."
Tim MacMahon covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.
2hMarc Stein and Tim MacMahon
4hMarc Stein and Calvin Watkins