DALLAS (AP) — Mark Cuban is ready.
Ready to make some blockbuster trades on draft day.
Ready to take on some hefty contracts if it means adding a quality player — or two or three — to the Dallas Mavericks.
And, perhaps most of all, he's ready ... to do nothing more than take the best player available with the 22nd pick in Thursday's NBA draft.
"I'm just as curious as anyone else about what will happen," Cuban wrote in an e-mail Tuesday.
Coming off their ninth straight season with 50 wins and a playoff berth, the Mavericks are still seeking the right mix of players around Dirk Nowitzki to win their first championship.
Their offseason needs start with re-signing point guard Jason Kidd or finding a replacement if they lose him, then finding a reliable shooting guard and a low-post scorer. They also could use "backup everything," according to team president Donnie Nelson.
If they stay at No. 22, the Mavericks are likely to only get one of those backups. Then again, the draft hasn't been much of a source during Cuban's tenure.
Dallas has made only three first-round picks in the nine drafts since Cuban bought the club. Among them was getting Josh Howard, a future All-Star, at No. 29; that's why Nelson is "hoping for another Josh Howard moment" in this year's draft.
The 22nd pick worked out well for Orlando last year. The Magic took Courtney Lee, and as a rookie he started for most of their playoff run, including the entire NBA finals.
"We think there's going to be a real good chance that a couple of the guys we're looking at are going to be there," Nelson said. "We don't know whether that's going to be in a 7-foot body or a 5-foot-10 body."
While the draft itself hasn't been a building block, draft day has been.
Nelson was part of the franchise-shifting trades for Nowitzki and Steve Nash in 1998. In 2004, Cuban and Nelson sent Antawn Jamison to Washington for the rights to Devin Harris, Jerry Stackhouse and Christian Laettner.
There's always the chance that it happens again Thursday.
"Because of economic stress, the belt-tightening that everyone is going through now, and just from fielding calls, there's a lot more activity than usual," Nelson said. "That usually translates into more deals being done. Now, all of a sudden, draft day may come and nothing might happen."
Or, as Cuban wrote in a Twitter posting Monday: "Could be a week of lots of talk, no action."
Cuban has been saying for months that the Mavericks will listen to any offers from teams looking to shed payroll. For those teams, it would seem logical to go ahead and do it already, so they can have a better idea of who to take in the draft and which free agents to target.
"But the reality is that people generally hold their cards right up until the draft," he said. "Then it's draft day and there's so much going on that some stuff gets done, some stuff doesn't. ... There are more deals that are walked away from than are consummated."
Stackhouse and Erick Dampier have the kinds of contracts that are good trading chips for Dallas. The Mavericks also might be willing to deal Howard. And, of course, there's always that No. 22 pick.
"We're not going to do something for a lateral move," Nelson said. "It's got to be a significant upgrade. All those scenarios are on the little greaseboard back there."
Some of the names most often linked to Dallas' spot in the draft include point guards like Ty Lawson, Jeff Teague and Darren Collison, or big men B.J. Mullens, James Johnson and Sam Young.
"Our strategy is to be knowledgeable about everything at all times," Nelson said. "We just want to be ready when and if we pull the trigger."
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
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