Thursday , Jan , 15 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Cuban and Nellie attempt to get on same page

(Sports Network) – As trade rumors and hints of a coaching change swirled
around the Lone Star State, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban made it clear on
Wednesday that head coach Don Nelson was not going anywhere in a pre-game
meeting between the two prior to Dallas’ thrilling double-overtime victory
over the Philadelphia 76ers.

“Nobody’s getting fired,” Cuban told the Dallas Morning News.

“I’m not going to let Nellie sit in Hawaii and play golf and get a suntan if I
can’t get one. He’s got to stay here and work this thing out and get it to the
next level. I wasn’t going to do the old vote of confidence thing because
that’s a kiss of death. I wanted to tell him that, with all the [expletive]
going on, you ain’t going anywhere”

Nelson, who is the NBA’s second winningest coach, signed a three-year
extension with the Mavs in June, but his job security has cone into question
of late with his team underachieving at 22-16 and 4 1/2 games off the pace
of the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Midwest Division..

“He told me he’s not firing me – he didn’t say when,” said Nelson.
“We’re all hired to be fired. We’re in the sports business. Very few guys
retire. Usually, you get fired. Hopefully, I’m here a long time. But if I’m
not, then that’s the way of the business.”

One name that has made the rounds as a successor to Nelson has been Miami
Heat President Pat Riley, who was succeeded by Nellie in New York. Cuban,
though, had no idea where all that came from.

“I’ve never met the guy in my life, other to shake his hand after a game
and say I’ve met him,” Cuban said. “Nobody’s talking to anybody. There’s
not been one phone call made about the subject, period.”

Nelson’s squad responded to all the pre-game festivities by blowing a
15-point lead in the fourth quarter, before finally outlasting the Sixers,

“It was such an emotional game,” Nelson said. “It had everything
you could want or ask for – great shooting, bad shooting, good plays, bad
plays. It was anybody’s game.”

Nobody was bigger for Dallas than Dirk Nowitzki, who finished with 25
points and 14 rebounds and sank a crucial three-pointer near the end of the
first overtime that evened the game. He then gave the Mavs the lead for good
with a 15-foot jumper with 24.1 seconds to play in the game.


Dallas apparently is the new favorite to land troubled, but talented,
forward Rasheed Wallace from the Portland Trail Blazers. In fact reports
from Portland on Tuesday hinted that a deal seemed imminent and with Wallace
sitting out against the Los Angeles Clippers, speculation ran rampant that a
deal was all but done.

Not so fast, though.

Cuban also addressed the Wallace rumors prior to Wednesday’s game, and said
nothing is expected to happen in the next few days, but did not deny
interest in the former North Carolina star.

“I’m not knocking Rasheed,” Cuban added. “For the right deal, I
wouldn’t say no to Rasheed. That’s not the issue. But we’re not out there
shopping. We’re not looking to break things up.”

The proposed deal would have sent Antawn Jamison, Tony Delk and Eduardo
Najera to Portland for Wallace.