Mark Cuban hopes Lakers 'suck'

LOS ANGELES -- After the dust settled this summer, Mark Cuban was quick to remind folks that the Los Angeles Lakers failed to win a title the last time they reloaded with a couple of sure-fire Hall of Famers.

Those Lakers, who added graybeards Karl Malone and Gary Payton to a championship core headlined by Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, fell short by losing in the NBA Finals.

These Lakers, who added veteran Steve Nash and in-his-prime Dwight Howard to a championship core headlined by Bryant and Pau Gasol, are widely considered the favorites to meet the Miami Heat in the Finals.

"I don't know, I don't care, I just hope they suck," Cuban said with a laugh when asked to evaluate the Lakers on Tuesday night. "You know, like any other team."

Cuban questioned this summer whether all of L.A.'s high-profile pieces would be able to pull in the same direction. That remains a legitimate question after the Lakers' injury-riddled, winless preseason.

"Obviously, Nash is great. He's phenomenal, Dwight's phenomenal, Kobe ... but it takes a team," Cuban said. "They've got to come together and play as a team. Hopefully, they won't figure it out tonight."

Cuban insists it doesn't bother him that the Lakers, in the wake of the new collective bargaining agreement that was supposed to limit the advantage of major-market teams, were able to add two such significant pieces this summer. He sees it as a risk the Lakers deemed worth taking.

"I don't have a problem with it, because until guys start playing until they're 50 (years old), it always comes to an end at some point," Cuban said. "Houston went for it when they got (Charles) Barkley and it didn't happen. Guys have shelf lives. They don't play forever, so at some point, you have to re-formulate your team. Everybody's got to go through it.

"In the meantime, if somebody's got a quote-unquote super team, that's fine. I mean, we did all right when we got to the Finals against a super team."