Nationals

Cuban: Struggling Mavericks won't trade Nowitzki

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Cuban: Struggling Mavericks won't trade Nowitzki

DALLAS (AP) Mark Cuban says he plans to keep star Dirk Nowitzki even though the Dallas Mavericks have their worst record since a few months after he bought the team in 2000.

Cuban said before Saturday night's game against Memphis that he wanted to be clear with Nowitzki that he was committed ``through thick and thin'' to getting the team back in contention.

Dallas recently fell 10 games under .500 for the first time since Nowitzki's second season in 1999-2000. Since then, the Mavericks have made the playoffs 12 straight years and won the title in 2011.

The Mavericks are playing with a revamped roster for the second straight season after Cuban decided not to bring back several key players from the championship team.

``I told Dirk we're not going to trade him. He was happy. I think,'' Cuban said, laughing. ``I wanted to make it clear to him. I said, `We're in this through thick and thin,' and so there's no way I would trade him no matter what.''

Nowitzki, who missed the first 27 games after the first knee surgery of his career, blew off some steam after a recent loss by saying the Mavericks couldn't count on landing a big name in free agency next summer after they missed on Deron Williams last offseason. It was an indirect shot at Cuban's decision to let Tyson Chandler and others go after the franchise's first title.

``When Dirk has something on this mind, he's never shy,'' Cuban said. ``If he's going to tell you what he said in the media, you don't think he's going to dump on me? I mean, I've got texts from every single year and emails from every single year. Dirk wants to get it out of his system and then at the end of the email or text it's like, `Don't you worry. I'm a warrior and I'm going to lead these guys and we're going to get it rolling.'''

The Mavericks added guards O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison, center Chris Kaman and forward Elton Brand on short-term deals with the idea that they could pursue big names later, but also with the belief that the team could win now with Nowitzki. When the 7-foot German couldn't make it through training camp without pain in his right knee, Dallas was suddenly figuring out how to survive without him.

The Mavericks actually did OK at 12-15 while Nowitzki was out, but he was sluggish the first few games during a rough part of the schedule. Dallas lost nine of 10 and fell to 13-23 before beating Sacramento on Thursday in a game that also snapped an NBA record-tying 10-game overtime losing streak.

Nowitzki had a hand in a few of the defeats, missing key free throws late in losses to New Orleans and Miami.

``The odds of Dirk missing the free throws ... I would have taken that bet anytime, anywhere,'' Cuban said. ``It just takes time. No one hurts more about it than Dirk. And there's nobody who's a bigger warrior and that's why I won't ever trade him.''

That doesn't mean the Mavericks won't be active before the Feb. 21 trading deadline. Cuban said there was a ``100 percent chance we're going to try to look to do something.'' He says the Mavericks could benefit from other teams trying to avoid harsher luxury tax rules that kick in next year.

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Nationals manager Dave Martinez remains in Washington for further testing

Nationals manager Dave Martinez remains in Washington for further testing

Davey Martinez remained in Washington for further medical testing instead of traveling to St. Louis, the Nationals announced Monday. Bench coach Chip Hale will manage instead.

Martinez left Sunday’s series finale against the Atlanta Braves in the sixth inning because he was not feeling well. He went to a local hospital for further examinations upon the recommendation from Nationals medical staff.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters in St. Louis on Monday that Martinez had chest pains during Sunday’s game. He underwent a minor heart procedure called a cardiac catheterization. Rizzo said Martinez is expected to rejoin the team once his blood work comes back and he is cleared to travel. 

“This is something we have to take care of,” Rizzo told reporters. “We are certainly, when we get all the results back, we will have a game plan in place and get him back here as soon as we can."

Hale, 54, joined the Nationals’ staff as bench coach when Martinez was hired. The Baltimore Orioles interviewed him this offseason for their open managerial position. Hale has replaced Martinez following each of Martinez’s ejections this season.

Hale managed the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2015-16, where his teams went a combined 148-176. He’s also been the third base coach for the New York Mets, the bench coach for the Oakland A’s, and even a Triple-A manager. Prior, Hale was a part-time major leaguer for seven seasons.

Tim Bogar will slide into the bench coach role. Assistant hitting coach Joe Dillon will coach first base. The Nationals do not plan to add coaches to the staff during Martinez’s absence.

Though he is not present, Martinez continues to influence the day. Hale said Martinez texted the lineup to him.

The Nationals open a three-game series Monday night in St. Louis. They have a 1 ½-game lead for home-field in the Wild-Card Game. They are just 2 ½ games in front of Milwaukee for a postseason berth. Just 14 games remain in the season. 

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