AAC dark on day when lights should be bright

Today was supposed to be one heck of a feel-good day for the world champion Dallas Mavericks. Believe it or not, the 2011-12 season officially was to kick off today with the team's annual Media Day at American Airlines Center.

That's the day when players and coaches greet the media for the first time since the end of the previous season. They mill around the AAC practice court granting interviews and taking pictures. It's also when they pose for photos for team promotional initiatives and even some national stuff that you'll see on broadcasts throughout the season.

Basically, everyone's happy to be there because it means training camp opens the next day and it's back to basketball.

This day would have been one last chance to revel in what they accomplished that June night in Miami when Dirk Nowitzki ran off the court because winning the title was just too much emotion for him to handle at that moment.

This day ain't happening.

Nowitzki remains in Germany. Jason Kidd is probably on an extended honeymoon with his bride on some tropical island. Shawn Marion is likely jet-setting. Caron Butler is getting ready to suit up for the first time for a star-laden exhibition game in Miami on Saturday night. Tyson Chandler continues to kick with his family in Southern California just waiting to find out which team he's going to play for next.

Such is life during the ongoing NBA lockout that is dangerously close to canceling regular-season games. Owners and players will be back at the negotiating table this week. Is there hope? Not sure. Last week saw multiple meetings that included Mavs owner Mark Cuban, a shouting match between Dwyane Wade and commissioner David Stern and then a marathon meeting of close to eight hours that reportedly ended with a wide gulf still separating the two sides.

What must be driving Cuban and Donnie Nelson nuts is simply the inability to do anything. They have six free agents sitting out there, including Chandler, Butler, J.J. Barea, DeShawn Stevenson and The Custodian, Brian Cardinal.

What would have been finalized in early July has dragged into October and nobody is really sure when it all will come to a head. Until a deal is made the defending champs can't go to work on re-signing their 7-foot-1 defensive anchor and emotional leader in Chandler. Will Butler return? Will Barea be a Mav or maybe a Laker?

The clock is ticking. No reason to go to the AAC today. The lights won't be on.

Now, if you've got $650 burning a hole in your pocket, sign up for two Mavs fantasy camps this week with coach Rick Carlisle and his staff. The lights will be on for that.