Owner: 'Bank of Cuban' is open

DALLAS -- Memo to the rest of the NBA: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is in "Let's Make a Deal" mode.

"We're letting everybody know that the "Bank of Cuban" is open," Cuban said Monday night, a couple of days after declaring that there was a "100 percent chance" the Mavs would aggressively pursue trade opportunities before the Feb. 21 deadline.

"If it's the right deal, we don't mind taking back money. But we're not going to do a trade just to do a trade. It's got to be worthwhile."

The Mavs have the ability to take back significantly more salary in trades because they are under the salary cap. Cuban has continually insisted that is a primary reason he opted for financial flexibility instead of re-signing several key contributors to the Mavs' 2010-11 title team, not just because they wanted to have enough salary cap space to sign a superstar in free agency.

As Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki recently lamented, the Mavs missed out on Deron Williams last summer and would be a long shot to land a legitimate superstar this offseason, with Clippers point guard Chris Paul and Lakers center Dwight Howard expected to stay with their respective teams in Los Angeles.

As a result, the 16-23 Mavs' best chance to make major roster upgrades is probably in the trade market. And Cuban has made it clear that he intends to explore every trade possibility, saying he's poring over rosters and making suggestions to Dallas president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson on a daily basis.

"That's obviously good to know that he still wants to go for it," Nowitzki said, noting that the Mavs have typically been one of the teams hit hardest by the luxury tax. "That's obviously what he promised me when I re-signed here in 2010. I wanted to make sure that he still wanted to go for it and keep spending and using his resources to make sure this was a winning franchise, and obviously then we didn't know that the next year we were going to win it all.

"That just happened and it was a great byproduct, but our plan was to be a winning team the four years that I signed on, so we'll see what happens."

The Mavs have made many trades during Cuban's 13-year ownership tenure where the team took on significantly more salary. Such deals brought key championship pieces Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler to Dallas.

However, the Mavs wouldn't have had the flexibility to make those types of trades as a luxury-tax-paying team under the new, more restrictive collective bargaining agreement. Cuban now is hoping to take advantage of teams that want to avoid paying the luxury tax, which increases dramatically next season.

The Mavs, who are in danger of having a 12-year playoff streak snapped, have several expiring contracts that could be attractive to cost-cutting teams. The Mavs will seek to get involved as a facilitator in multi-team trades as well as discuss traditional deals.

"Anything that helps us," Cuban said.