For the first time since becoming owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban won't be sweating out the NBA draft, which takes place in a few hours. Why not? Well, because his Mavs, fresh off their first appearance in the NBA Finals, don't need any help, and because he's making a bid to become a hockey owner. While the latter would be priceless if Cuban starts lacing up skates and performing double salchows during on-ice tirades against NHL refs, tonight's draft will be refreshingly indifferent. The Mavs have no pressing needs. With their pick--No. 28 overall--they are hoping for a player who can make an impact years from now, not next year.
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I know, Josh Howard was picked 29th, and San Antonio's Tony Parker went 28th, but the beauty is that this Dallas team isn't counting on contribution. Most likely, the player will bounce from the NBA's Developmental League to the end of Dallas' bench next season. It's a far cry from when draft day dictated the franchise's interest, ticket sales and hope. All this doesn't mean, however, that the draft won't be interesting. Considered weak by most experts, a local-boy-does-good story could arise if Seagoville native and University of Texas center LaMarcus Aldridge is the No. 1 overall pick by the Toronto Raptors. Though Seagoville is about 20 miles from Dallas, apparently we're ready to boast him as a "Dallas product" taken first, following Larry Johnson (Skyline) in '91 and Kenyon Martin (Bryan Adams) in '00. Aldridge, too passive and unpolished to be a big-time scorer in the NBA immediately, does live in Uptown. And if he lands the top prize, he would be guaranteed $17 million over the next five years. So, yeah, I guess we'll claim him. --Richie Whitt