Mavs' performance has Cuban antsy

DALLAS -- Owner Mark Cuban acknowledged that the Dallas Mavericks' recent losing ways have made his trigger finger a little itchy.

Last week, Cuban said he didn't see the Mavericks making a blockbuster deal, although the team would explore its options before the Feb. 18 trade deadline.

Cuban is much more eager to make a trade after the Mavs' first three-game losing streak of the season.

"We suck right now," Cuban said before Wednesday night's home game against the Golden State Warriors. "Where before we might not have listened, now at least we'll listen. Nothing dramatic has changed except our performance."

The Mavericks are 31-18 after Wednesday's victory against the Warriors, good for third place in the Western Conference. However, Dallas is 9-9 since New Year's Eve.

If the Mavs make a significant trade, struggling swingman Josh Howard is likely to be the centerpiece of the outgoing package. Howard is in the middle of the worst season of his career, but he's an attractive trade chip because of his contract, which includes a team option for $11.8 million next season.

"It's not like [other teams] think I'm sorry in this league," Howard told NBA.com. "I know that for a fact. If it's meant for me to get traded, it's going to happen. That's not even my concern. My concern is winning."

Howard also expressed frustration with his role and the uncertainty of the franchise's plans for his future. Cuban said he understood that frustration and hoped Howard could work his way out of a slump, but the owner certainly offered no assurances that Howard would remain with the Mavericks after the trade deadline.

"It's just the nature of the business," Cuban said. "People get anxious and get nervous, particularly when things aren't going well and particularly with my history. It's not like Josh hasn't been here five years and knows we've made a lot of trades."

Tim MacMahon covers the Mavericks for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.