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Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011

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Say cheese: Mavericks teammates (from left) Shawn Marion, Vince Carter, Lamar Odom, Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd pose for a photo at the team's media day in Dallas on Tuesday. AP

New recruits Odom, Carter eager to help Mavs defend title


DALLAS — Lamar Odom knows what it takes to repeat as an NBA champion.

Vince Carter wants to know what it feels like to become an NBA champion.

The Dallas Mavericks are hoping a little of both — Odom's experience and Carter's hunger — can go a long way to help their title defense.

The two newcomers were the stars of Mavs media day on Tuesday because of what they represent. They're the proof that team owner Mark Cuban is serious about winning it all again, which is something fans were questioning just a few days ago when the billionaire was letting the core of last year's team dissolve with the departure of free agents Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler and J.J. Barea.

Sure, adding two more players in their 30s keeps Dallas among the league's older teams. But they also should keep the Mavs among the best teams in this lockout-shortened season, especially with other newcomers such as guard Delonte West joining the mix.

"Having depth and having good guys that can play is part and parcel to being effective," coach Rick Carlisle said. "The deepest team that can stay healthy and stay together is the team that's going to have the best chance to come out of the West."

Late last week, things were looking bleak for Dallas' chances of coming out of the West when the Lakers were poised to get Chris Paul from New Orleans, with Odom part of the bait. Then the league blocked that deal.

The Lakers were still willing to get rid of Odom and the Mavericks were eager to get him. The deal was struck quickly, using a trade exception Dallas acquired from New York as part of another move that helped pave the way for Chandler to join the Knicks.

Odom was stunned the Lakers didn't want him around. He was glad the commissioner rejected the deal to New Orleans because he wanted to contend for a championship, not start over with a young team. He said he told the Lakers that if they had to deal him, Dallas topped his wish list.

"It's definitely surreal," he said. "It happened like that," he said, snapping his fingers.

Odom also felt disrespected because he never saw this coming. Over seven years, he won two titles and last season was named the league's Sixth Man of the Year.

"If somebody is telling you, 'You can't be here, there's no more room for you,' you've got to understand that," he said. "I think it's because of how they did it that I took it so personally."

Nuggets acquire pair


DENVER — The Denver Nuggets acquired versatile swingman Rudy Fernandez and forward Corey Brewer from the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday for a future second-round pick.

The trade gives the Nuggets added depth as the team attempts to work out deals with free agent big man Nene and guard Arron Afflalo, who is a restricted free agent.

After playing the past three seasons in Portland, Fernandez was traded to Dallas in a three-team deal last June that landed Andre Miller in Denver and Raymond Felton with the Blazers.

Miller and Fernandez will now be paired up again in the Mile High City.

Brewer signed with Dallas late last season and appeared in six playoff games for the NBA champs. He has averaged nearly nine points over four seasons.

"We are excited to add two talented young wing players who have proven themselves in the NBA," said Masai Ujiri, the executive vice president of basketball operations for the Nuggets.

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