As rumors swirl, Mavs aren't on current Kobe radar

Mercurial Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says you can count out Dallas in the Kobe Bryant sweepstakes.

During Wednesday night's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Cuban said that the team is not pursuing a trade for the Los Angeles Lakers star.

"We haven't talked to them," Cuban told ESPN's Lisa Salters during a sideline interview. "It's not going to happen. We've got a great squad. We like it."

Cuban was asked if the team has any interest at all in Bryant.

"We're always looking for bargains, but I don't think they're going to give us any bargains," he said.

The Bulls appear to be the primary partner in trade talks with Los Angeles.
As ESPN.com reported on Saturday, the Lakers have asked for Luol Deng, Tyrus Thomas, Ben Gordon and rookie Joakim Noah as the core parts of any trade for Bryant.

Contrary to most reports, the Bulls remain ready and willing to deal Deng, a source told ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan. But if they're going to include Deng in a deal, they will not part with more than one of the other three, said the source.

Even then, it is not clear that any trade involving Deng would be acceptable to Bryant, who is wielding the power of the NBA's only no-trade clause by threatening to veto certain deals.

"It's not just the Bulls and Lakers who have to be happy with this deal. Kobe does, too, and that's a major factor," the source said.

The Bulls, according to ESPN.com's source, are willing to offer an alternative package of Gordon, Noah and Thomas.

Magic Johnson, who owns a small percentage of the Lakers, was critical of both management and Bryant during his guest spot on Tuesday's Lakers-Rockets telecast on TNT.

"Watching the players and looking at their body language, they are going to have to make a decision about Kobe in the next week or two," Johnson, quoted by The Los Angeles Times, said. "It's got to come to a head. You've either got to trade him or come out and say you're going to keep him. Even Kobe needs it. He missed nine free throws [Tuesday]. It's on his mind too."

Johnson went on to say that the best possible scenario for Los Angeles was not trading Bryant.

"I don't think he's going to get traded," Johnson said, according to The Times. "I think they'll try to keep him and make something happen in terms of trying to improve the team."

Bryant criticized the Lakers' front office five months ago and then demanded a trade. This offseason, the two sides appeared to bury the hatchet, but Lakers owner Jerry Buss recently said that the team would listen to offers for Bryant and tensions increased.

Sources told ESPN's Ric Bucher on Wednesday that the Lakers had been in talks this week with the Chicago Bulls and Sacramento Kings about a possible three-way deal. The Lakers would have acquired Ron Artest and Ben Wallace. The Kings would have gotten Ben Gordon and P.J. Brown. And Bryant would have landed in Chicago.

That deal is apparently now dead.