| Sports |

Back is Stack

"Here, Mrs. Bush, would you like to hold my ball?"

The Dallas Mavericks may not be better next season. But it won’t be because they’re not tougher. Dallas checked off No. 1 on their off-season to-do list, agreeing to a three-year deal with free agent Jerry Stackhouse. The deal won’t be officially announced until Wednesday, when contracts can be signed.

Sure Stack can be a ball hog, and he’s not the best defender, but he’s by far the meanest bone in the Mavs’ body. Remember the hard foul on Shaq during the ’06 Finals? Remember last spring, while Dirk Nowitzki and his merry band of softies were being shoved around by the Warriors, it was Stackhouse who nailed three consecutive three-pointers from that left corner to keep Game 6 close early?

Dirk is Dallas’ best player, but Stack is its toughest. But in addition to attitude, the 32-year-old Stackhouse brings 12 points off the bench as one of the NBA’s best sixth men. With him signed, the Mavs can now turn their attention to getting more athletic with a free agent like Charlotte’s Gerald Wallace, getting even tougher with a interior veteran like Chicago’s P.J. Brown or perhaps getting better, bigger and bolder with an All-Star like Minnesota’s Kevin Garnett.

And if you’re basketball jonesing to see how top draft pick Nick Fazekas’ whiteness and stiffness matches up against No. 2 overall pick Kevin Durant, catch the Mavs’ Summer League team on tape-delay against Seattle tonight at 7 on KTXA-Channel 21. Nerd. --Richie Whitt

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