The Mavericks took the high road, with owner Mark Cuban saying only, “I wish Josh nothing but the best.”

The juicy piece of irony is that Howard ended up in Washington, which may well have been the site where he had the beginning of the end, according to several Maverick sources.

They say Howard had a long night of partying on Jan. 19, the night after the Mavericks had won in Boston and less than 24 hours before playing the Wizards.

The team officially said he missed the game against Washington on Jan. 20 with a stomach illness. But sources said team officials could not deny that it was a self-inflicted game off.

Howard’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, did not comment on the incident.

Howard, meanwhile, didn’t mince words when talking about the Mavericks after Wednesday’s win over Minnesota.

“I became the one that they thought was the problem,” Howard told The Washington Post. “The one thing that I can say is unfair is, the guy that came back from injury, came back early, still came out and gave you positive minutes, and you trade him. It’s that simple. If anything, you can say that’s hard feelings. But other than that, it’s a business.”

Mutual interest

Mavs owner Mark Cuban has stated his interest in staging a regular-season or playoff game at Cowboys Stadium.

“We would love to explore that,” said Stephen Jones, Cowboys’ chief operating officer.

In the wake of the record crowd for the NBA All-Star Game, Cuban told reporters he would like to look into playing an occasional Mavericks game at the stadium if he could make the economics work, but he had yet to run the idea by Jerry Jones or NBA commissioner David Stern.

The Cowboys owner is in Vancouver for the Olympics and couldn’t be reached, but Stephen Jones made it clear the club would welcome the discussion.

Briefly

The trade deadline passed with nothing transpiring for the Mavericks. They will continue to monitor players who become available either via the waiver wire or through buyouts. With Erick Dampier out for a few weeks, the obvious need is a center who could fill in behind Brendan Haywood, who is the only true, healthy center on the roster.

Jason Kidd’s seven steals Wednesday against Phoenix made him just the fourth player this season to have at least that many in a game. New Orleans’ Chris Paul and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook have had eight in a game, and Golden State’s C.J. Miles had seven.

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