Trade May Ruin Mavs' Future

Trade May Ruin Mavs' Future

Always putting on a happy face for the crowd, Jason Terry gave it everything he had after Monday's practice.

What do you do without Dirk Nowitzki?

"Grind it out," he said. "Win as many as you can. Stay upbeat. Stay positive.

"Today was a day we got better, I thought."

Terry was holding his own with the media, too, until he talked too long, a dangerous habit for anyone, and compared the Mavs' predicament with the Cowboys'.

"Nobody felt sorry for them when Tony Romo went down."

Probably not an analogy you want to make, Jason.

Besides, what's happened to the Mavs with the temporary loss of Nowitzki and the permanent absence of Caron Butler may have been worse. The Cowboys were already going south when Romo went down. The Mavs? They were only putting together one of the best seasons in club history.

Nowitzki, playing at an MVP level. Tyson Chandler, the center they never had. A solid second option in Butler. A bench as good as ever.

No one wanted to get too giddy the first few months because it was still football season and, well, we've seen these Mavs fall apart before. And in just one series, at that. Still, there was also reason to think this team might be different.

The chemistry seemed perfect. Coaches who hang out over at American Airlines Center have long asked players to do things they didn't want to do. It reminded me of a friend's reaction when a carnie told him he should clean up the mess he'd left on a stomach-turning ride. The Mavs had the same look whenever asked to play defense. My personal stance has been that nothing would change until the personnel did. Chandler validated my point.

But the Mavs' transformation has been more than just Chandler's energetic, intimidating presence. The team was buying in. You could tell it when the veterans petitioned Rick Carlisle to start DeShawn Stevenson.

Stevenson was forever in their debt, and he's played like it. What more could you want from him?

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