In a season that didn’t go nearly as planned, Dallas Mavericks governor Mark Cuban knows what has to happen in order toCuban make next season better than the one that ended Sunday for the Mavs.

“I think we just got to come together,” Cuban told “I don’t think we had an identity (this season).

“We have to decide who we are. Are we (going to) outscore them, or we a defensive team like we were last year? Who are we and how do we fill the roles to match that up?”

After Sunday’s 138-117 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, the Mavs finished this season with a 38-44 record. That came a year after the Mavs advanced to the Western Conference Finals.

Cuban said he believes whatever ailed the Mavs this season can definitely be fixed over the offseason.

“Obviously, we think it can,” he said. “We’ll see. No one’s going to make it easy for us.

Kidd“But I think once we get that identity and set the roles according to that identity, and the lineups that match that. . .”

Last year the Mavs were 50-32 and played in three rounds of the playoffs. They certainly wanted to build off of that success this season.

“We came up short,” coach Jason Kidd said. “We didn’t make the play-in (tournament) or the playoffs.

“We’ve got to go back and figure out how to help them be consistent on the defensive end. Offensively, we were consistent. Defensively, we weren’t.”

The Mavs admit it’s painful getting just three wins away from reaching the NBA Finals last season and having their season end at the conclusion of this year’s regular season.

“I wouldn’t say we overachieved (last season),” Kidd said. “I think we just did things to pay attention to details. But we were, I think, more defensive-oriented last year.

“But that’s across the board. The league was more offensive-minded this year. You had more 40-point games.  You got to have a defensive mind. But we were on the offensive side of the ball and we did that well.”

Now, Kidd knows the attention to detail on the defensive side of the ball is a must.Cuban

“This summer we’ve got to get better defensively,” he said. “Length could help, but we’ve got to rebound the ball.

“That was one of the biggest things. I thought even last year we struggled to rebound the ball at times.”

Continuity, Cuban said, also should help.

“We tried so many different lineups and matchups that we just couldn’t ever find the rhythm,” Cuban said. “So, I think we’ll know what we’ll have going into the (2023-24) season.

“And it’ll be a longer offseason, so we’ll have more time to prepare.”

KIDD CONSIDERED SPURS IN 2003: After Jason Kidd and the New Jersey Nets lost to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2003 NBA Finals, Kidd came very close to signing a free agent contract with the Spurs during the ensuing offseason.

The course of NBA history, obviously, would have forever changed had that happened.

“For sure, you always look back and (wonder) what would have happened if I would have went there after losing to them in the Finals,” Kidd Kiddsaid. “Coming out of the Finals two years in a row with Jersey, I thought we were going back. But the business of basketball changed that.”

At the time, Tony Parker was in his second season as the Spurs’ point guard. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, nevertheless, was all-in on trying to sign Kidd.

So how did Parker take that?

“He didn’t like it at all,” Popovich said. “He didn’t want Jason Kidd to come (to the Spurs) and he was very direct with me about it, and I told him why I wanted Jason Kidd to come – to be a mentor and blah, blah, blah.

“Then Jason didn’t come, and Tony didn’t miss a beat, and he didn’t cry or moan or disrespect me or anything like that. He just got better and better every year. He was a total stud in that regard.”

What Parker did was play so well that he helped the Spurs win three more titles, and he was the Most Valuable Player in the 2007 NBA Finals. In addition, Parker will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in August – alongside Dirk Nowitzki and Popovich.

“He also had great confidence in himself in that he didn’t think he needed a mentor,” Popovich said of Parker. “He just figured, ‘I’m good, I’ll do this, I don’t need anybody else, I’ve got the ball, I’m in charge.’ Except for Timmy (Duncan). And we’ll carry on. It never even came up again.”

Kidd, meanwhile, returned to New Jersey and played five more seasons with the Nets before he was traded to the Mavs on Feb. 13, Hardy2008. And he was a key figure in the Mavs capturing the 2011 NBA title.

“For whatever reason, I’ve always been on teams that have been sold,” Kidd said. “And so, things changed.

“The roster changed and that helped me get to Dallas.”

BRIEFLY: Mavs rookie Jaden Hardy scored 21 points in the second quarter of Sunday’s 138-117 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. That’s the most points scored by a rookie in one quarter this season. The previous high were the 20 points tallied by Orlando Magic rookie Paolo Banchero in the third quarter against Memphis on Jan. 5. It’s also the most points scored in one quarter by a Mavs’ rookie since Roddy Beaubois scored 21 points in the second quarter against Golden State on March 27, 2010. . .Theo Pinson became the 13th player in Mavs history to record a triple-double Sunday when he collected 23 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists. It was the first triple-double of Pinson’s career. In addition, Pinson joins Fat Lever (1988), Grant Hill (1996) and James Harden (2021) as the only players in NBA history to record a triple-double with at least 23 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists without committing a turnover. . .Before Sunday’s game, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was asked about next month’s NBA Draft Lottery and it he thinks about the prospects of what could happen if his team lands the No. 1 overall pick. “Sure, it goes through your head,” Popovich said. “I have a pulse. And I’m in basketball. I’m probably going to think about ping pong balls and the lottery. I can do that, right? It’s not against the rules. I can’t talk about any of the players or anything. There’s a lottery. Yes. I thought about it. Duh. You didn’t think I did? That I lived in a phone booth?” When reminded that a few short minutes earlier, all he wanted to talk about was Sunday’s game, Popovich laughed and said: “You believed me? You’re a naïve man.”

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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