DALLAS — — Basketball Hall of Fame forward Dennis Rodman took a lot of heat recently when he flew to North Korea and met with controversial North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.But Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban saw no problem with the two meeting.“Actually I think it’ll help,” Cuban said before Wednesday’s game against the Houston Rockets. “When you’ve got somebody talking about something other than global nuclear destruction, that’s a step in the right direction because you know there’s a topic you can have a conversation about that isn’t thinking about something else. Just like any argument, when you calm it down by switching subjects, that’s a good thing.”Cuban isn’t sure if anything of substance will come from the meeting between Rodman and Kim. But the fact that Kim is a huge basketball fan apparently says that he can at least relate to Rodman.“Who knows if it has any staying power, but it’s certainly not a negative,” Cuban said. “When I think of world peace I think of Rodman.”When Cuban bought the Mavs from Ross Perot Jr. on Jan. 4, 2000, one of the first players he signed to a free-agent contract was Rodman, who was 38 and way past his prime. However, Rodman wound up alienating the Mavs and was released after just 12 games while averaging 2.8 points and 14.3 rebounds in 32.4 minutes per game.However, during his time with the Mavs, Rodman mostly stayed in a guest home on Cuban’s property. Asked if Rodman trashed his guest home, Cuban said: “Not really. All he did was watch North Korean cartoons.”In a recent interview with Charlie Rose for 60 Minutes, NBA commissioner David Stern characterized Rodman’s visit with Kim as “ridiculous.”Improve transitionFor much of the season, coach Rick Carlisle has preached the importance of transition defense .“It’s the one thing that’s the most important defining part of your defense, and getting guys to make the transition to convert from offense to defense is so telling of the kind of defensive team you’re going to be,” Carlisle said. “Teams that are great at it, they have that energetic enthusiasm about defense.“We’ve had some games where we’ve been great, but our consistency there has been a challenge for us.”The Houston Rockets severely tested the Mavericks’ transition defense Sunday during their 136-103 victory over Dallas. But Carlisle said: “A game like Sunday really exaggerates that, because these [Rockets] with their pace, their skill, their ability to get to the rim, all that stuff becomes magnified.”Zoned outThe zone defense that was often effective for the Mavericks in recent seasons has been almost nonexistent this season. And that has put more pressure on the Mavericks’ man-to-man defense.“At times we’ve been able to break a little rhythm with [the zone defense],” Rick Carlisle said. “The guys that we had before had more size, more experience, and just more basketball experience in general, and so it was more effective. This year our guards are small. That’s been one of the challenges of it.”Carlisle said he still plans to use the zone defense going forward.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @dwainprice