Could the coach on the right wind up with the coach on the left--which is to say, left out? We shall see.

Where There's Smoke, There's Usually Mark Cuban

In the month since our Dallas Mavericks broke our hearts with a dramatic come-from-ahead loss in the NBA Finals, owner Mark Cuban has been dissed by Dirk Nowitzki and now is apparently turning a cold shoulder to coach Avery Johnson. Nothing like a good contract feud to keep us talking Mavs into August. Seems like nothin', right? At only $2.5 million per season, Avery is one of the lowest-paid coaches in the league--and the lowest in the Southwest Division and poorest among the Western Conference's eight playoff coaches last season. But now it seems the NBA's Coach of the Year wants to renegotiate with three years still left on his original deal and, uh-oh, history tells us Cubes don't play that.

While Dallas' Only Daily tries to downplay and discredit the FWS-T's scoop (nothing like a juicy beat writer war, eh?), Mike Fisher has the only quotes from Cuban on the supposed story. It may turn out to be nothing, but where there's smoke there's usually a fiery Cuban. Remember, the beginning of the end to the Cuban-Don Nelson relationship actually started when Nellie signed a new contract three summers ago. At the time I took tons o' heat for writing this lead on June 1, 2003:




Though Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and coach Don Nelson finally agreed on a new contract, their personal relationship these days is becoming less and less agreeable. We're not talking Jimmy-Jerry just yet, but the two have passed chilly, rounded for strained and are gaining speed toward rift."

Yes, Cuban should listen to Dirk and chill out during games. And, yes, the owner should reward Avery for his unprecedented success. Don't count on it. --Richie Whitt

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