DALLAS (AP) -With no first-round picks and no realistic way to get an immediate impact player, this looks like a futures draft for the Dallas Mavericks.
While the Mavs certainly wouldn't mind some help for league MVP Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard, that's not something they have to get in the draft. That can come through a trade or free agency, though the salary cap would be a hindrance.
Just remember that despite the shockingly quick elimination in the first round of the playoffs, this is still a team that won 67 games during the regular season. Plus, Dallas went to the NBA finals a year ago.
``Our emphasis and our priority is to build and add to what we've accomplished,'' team president and general manager Donnie Nelson said. ``We're not looking for major changes or reasons to blow things up. We like the chemistry and like the group we have.''
Unless they do some dealing before Thursday night, the Mavericks won't draft until 34th, the fourth pick of the second round. And they wouldn't even be that high if not for the February deal that sent veteran guard Anthony Johnson to Atlanta.
``When we kind of analyzed things at the trade deadline, we did like the depth and it had something to do with us making that trade,'' Nelson said. ``We feel we can get something we like at 34. It's a little dicier, though there's a chance we might be able to get something at 50.''
Dallas does have those two other second-round picks - Nos. 50 and 60, the latter one wrapping up the entire draft or, and as Nelson puts it, ``a little more of a crap shoot.''
Coach Avery Johnson said there have been calls from other teams about possible moves. But then he added nothing to clarify what might happen, saying Dallas could remain at No. 34 - or might not pick there.
Assuming that the Mavericks stay at No. 34, long after the question of Kevin Durant or Greg Oden at No. 1 has been answered, Nelson believes there is enough talent to get a contributor.
When they are finally on the clock, will the Mavs pick a point guard? Another scorer? A big, athletic body to play inside? A college player, or somebody from overseas?
``We'll take the best player. Our history has pretty well dictated that we don't care about country, color or creed. We just draft the best guy,'' Nelson said. ``We can take a player at any position really. ... When you get down to 34, at that point, you get locked into drafting on need, it's a mistake.''
Along with Nowitzki and Howard, their All-Star forward who was the 29th pick four years ago, the Mavericks return the rest of their primary starters: guards Jason Terry and Devin Harris, and center Erick Dampier.
Greg Buckner, who started 11 games and played 76 for Dallas last season, seems to be the most likely to be traded if any deal is made. Buckner could be packaged with one of the second-round picks for the Mavs to move up in the picking order.
One of the first orders of business for the Mavericks after the draft will be to try to re-sign Jerry Stackhouse, their sixth man who is now an unrestricted free agent. While it's a good bet Stackhouse will be back, nothing is certain until there is a new contract.
Devean George can also become an unrestricted free agent, if he decides not to exercise his option for a second season with the Mavs for just over $2 million.
The players who know they will be back aren't just sitting around. Several were working out at team headquarters this week even though a new season is more than three months away.
They are driven by the bitter taste of the playoff loss to Golden State that made Dallas the first No. 1 seed to lose a best-of-seven series in the opening round.
``We ran into that mismatched buzz-saw nightmare,'' Nelson said. ``Our guys can't wait to get back on the court. ... This is June. That just shows you the caliber of guys in the locker room.
``Everybody feels bad about the way it ended. You can sit around and mope, or do something about it. These guys are obviously doing the latter.''

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