The Dallas Mavericks have undergone a definite locker-room alteration this offseason and they hope it translates into a tougher, nastier team disposition.
Head coach Rick Carlisle tried to instill that attitude last season, but it just didn't happen. For years now, the Mavs have been perceived as a weak-minded and physically soft outfit that can be bullied in the playoffs.
Carlisle, who coached only in the more bruising Eastern Conference with Detroit and Indiana before landing in Dallas, once said he didn't even want his guys talking to the other team during warm-ups.
Jerry Stackhouse was always considered the one Mavs player who could be counted on to dish out hard-boiled intensity, but he's no longer on the team. So who can Carlisle rely on this season to lay the lumber, so to speak?
Owner Mark Cuban thinks the retooled roster provides several options.
"I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the toughness of this team," Cuban said recently during an online chat on DallasNews.com. "From the Matrix (Shawn Marion), Drew Gooden, Kris Humphries, we have added guys who have no problem getting into opposing players.
"Plus, our returning guys are no slouches either. I don't think anyone ever wants to go face-to-face with J-Ho (Josh Howard).
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