Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is hoping against all hope that veteran superstar forward Dirk Nowitzki can somehow re-gain his MVP form next season. Per ESPN: “If there’s one missing piece between what everyone is saying and what we’re doing, everybody, I think, has dismissed Dirk — like Dirk is done and he’s on the downside and he can’t play anymore and he’s not the type of contributor that he was,’ Cuban said. ‘If you look at the mess that we had in terms of our guard play and basketball IQ, when Dirk came back and really got into gear, we beat a lot of good teams. I think we were at a 48- or 50-win clip. You put a much better set of players around him, and Dirk is in a situation where he doesn’t have to rush back. He’s had all summer to prepare his body and get ready.’ Nowitzki averaged 17.3 points per game last season — his lowest since his rookie season in 1998-99 — and the Mavericks failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 1999-2000. But Cuban went as far as to say that Nowitzki still is an MVP-caliber player. ‘Knock on wood, if we stay healthy, I think people are just missing Dirk in ways they shouldn’t,’ Cuban said. ‘Like I’ve been telling him, Karl Malone won an MVP at 35 and there’s no reason why he can’t be considered in an MVP conversation at 35. I can also tell you, the way people are just randomly dismissing him as being done has been incredible motivation for him as well.’ The 7-foot Nowitzki, who never had missed more than nine games in a season before last season, averaged 18.9 points and 7.7 rebounds after the All-Star break, shooting 50.5 percent from the floor and 43.3 percent from 3-point range during that stretch. The Mavs went 18-12 after the break, which projects to a 49-win pace for a full season. Nowitzki, the 2006-07 MVP and 2011 NBA Finals MVP, has averaged 22.6 points per game during his 15-year career. [...] Nowitzki is entering the final season of a four-year, $80 million contract, but he has committed to re-sign with the Mavs next summer at a drastically reduced salary. After missing out on Dwight Howard this summer, the Mavs will continue trying to acquire a superstar to complement Nowitzki, with Calderon and high-scoring free-agent addition Monta Ellis headlining the supporting cast. Cuban is adamant, however, that Nowitzki remains a superstar. ‘Maybe Dirk won’t win an MVP,’ Cuban said. ‘But trust me, Dirk can still play.’”