DALLAS — Eddy Curry was all smiles Monday after the Dallas Mavericks mercifully put a wrap on their final preseason practice before Tuesday’s opener against Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers.
And why shouldn’t the slimmed-down Curry be smiling? After playing just 24 games over the last four seasons — that’s 24 total games, not an average per season — suddenly Curry will almost assuredly start at center opposite Howard at Staples Center just days after being waived by the Spurs and then signed by the desperate, injury depleted Mavs.
“That’s awesome, man,” Curry said of facing Howard in his L.A. debut. “Couldn’t ask for a better matchup, I think, just to really test me and see where I am.”
Curry’s personal good fortune, however, underscores just how miserably things have gone for Dallas this preseason. An adjustment period was coming anyway with a radically different roster from the one that claimed the franchise’s only NBA championship just 16 months ago, and even from the semi-dismantled one that feebly attempted to defend the title.
Yet, no one could have predicted that when the Mavs take the floor Tuesday night, forward Shawn Marion would be the lone starter from either of those two teams. It’s been one mess of a preseason, with injury and atypical turmoil producing one gut punch after another.
The big blow was Dirk Nowitzki’s bothersome right knee requiring arthroscopic surgery that will sideline him for at least another two to four weeks. Chris Kaman, the 7-foot and chronically injured center the Mavs crossed their fingers would start in the opener, can’t stay healthy. He wrenched his back during the very first practice and is now into his second week of a calf stain. The baffling Delonte West, the Mavs’ best option at backup point guard, was waived Monday after twice being suspended for conduct detrimental to the team.