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by Mike Fisher    Fri, Dec 16, 2005, 11:02 AM

Assorted notes from atop Fish's barstool:

ITEM: So you want Ron Artest on the Mavs, eh?

Artest is a brilliant talent, the sort of two-way player the Mavs have so rarely featured. Team him with Josh Howard and the rest of the increasingly caring-about-defense Mavs, and you will have re-made a club that still is considered "soft'' by casual observers. He's probably in Dirk's class one of the 15 best players in the NBA, when he's right.

But, um, exactly when will that be? When he's "right,'' that is?

Artest has listed Dallas as a possible destination. Artest's key on-the-record reason for wanting out of Indianapolis is that he wants more touches on offense.

The Mavericks are aware of this. They are also aware of the fact that with a roster that includes Dirk, Jason Terry, Josh Howard, Marquis Daniels, Devin Harris and soon, Jerry Stackhouse there is already a wonderful blend of offensive weapons -- and yet, because of the chemistry of this club, NONE of them demands "more touches on offense.''

Under what circumstances do I trade for Ron Artest? A lot of things would have to fall into place. ... including a promise from Ron-Ron that he take all his meds.

ITEM: Keyshawn Johnson is telling the media that the Cowboys offense should be more aggressive and more wide-open.

Then Bill Parcells says players have the right to say whatever they want -- but that, essentially, he has no obligation to listen.

Causing Keyshawn to counter that he "don't lobby for nothing. I let the coaches coach. That's what they get paid to do. We are just players. We don't know anything."

It's a wonderful dynamic the Cowboys have between their general (Parcells) and his lieutenant (Keyshawn), as they poke and prod each other while still always covering each other's arses.

I have the following information on the best of authority:

This week, Keyshawn Johnson DID mention his feelings to Parcells.

And this week, Parcells DID at least listen.

ITEM: Derek Harper's solid UPN21 interview with Steve Nash previewing Wednesday's Suns-Mavs game allowed Nash to state that his departure from the Mavs two summers ago was the result of "feeling unwanted'' by Dallas.

Aw, poor Steve.

On another day in this space, I'll tell the true story of the machinations that caused the MUTUAL divorce between Nash and the Mavs.

But today, awash in all the crocodile tears and the "We-Love-Stevie!'' slobber, I only have the patience to quickly summarize:

Steve Nash: Good guy, Good player. No longer a Mav?

Goodbye, already.

ITEM: Gunther Cunningham, the Chiefs' defensive coordinator, might be in trouble with the league for "flipping off'' the referees who called a fourth-down penalty that helped Dallas beat KC last week.

Do I have any problem with "shooting the bird'' in a moment of passion?

Not really. I believe that was you, Dear Reader, who did it to me while driving north on 75.

The only problem I have with the Chiefs here is their continual denial that a penalty was deserved on the play that led to the Cowboys getting a second chance for a winning TD.

Gunther and the Chiefs should be extending a finger, alright. ... at their own mirrors.

ITEM: Word from our source inside Valley Ranch is that not only were was right about the Cowboys examining the talents of CFL star QB Casey Printers, but they are also planning on bringing a total of a half-dozen CFL players into Dallas in the next couple of weeks for workouts.

Printers, 23, and a Dallas-area native, has worked out for the Cowboys before. He participated in a "Dallas Day'' tryout a few years ago. We're told he did not demonstrate NFL-level arm strength, and he wasn't drafted by any NFL team.

Since then, he's been named the CFL's Most Outstanding Player.

He's worth a look.

ITEM: It's awfully peaceful at Cowboys HQ right now, which is notable considering all the pressure involved in a playoff push. ... AND considering the volatile personalities of the two bosses, Jerry Jones and Bill Parcells.

Our spies inside Valley Ranch tell us that lots of credit for the peace should go to Jeff Ireland, in his first year as the scouting chief. There is a perception that Ireland is nothing but Parcells' executive secretary, and that may well be. But, says one source, " Ireland is a buffer between Jerry and Bill. He learned a lot watching Larry Lacewell do the same thing. Ireland keeps a lot of ! feathers from getting ruffled.''

ITEM: Old friend Jimmy Jenius' name is popping up in the news -- or rather, I suspect, Jimmy is orchestrating the purposeful popping up.

"Jimmy's talking to Detroit !'' Jimmy got an offer from the Texans!'' "Jimmy's going to be the highest-paid coach in NFL history!''

I don't believe Jimmy has any interest in soiling his legacy anymore than he already did in teal and orange. I do believe Jimmy has interest in being paid piles of money..

I wonder if Jimmy, creating leverage for himself, will find a way to turn down all these offers if Fox will just give him a bit of a raise.

ITEM: How perfect a match, how balanced a match, is the national title game between USC and Texas ?

Each team averages right about 50 points per game.

Balance. Perfect balance.

Heck, the winner might just be whichever defense only allows 49.

ITEM: Peter King of Sports Illustrated picked Dallas to beat KC last week because, he said, he believed Parcells has "one ounce of'' something-or-other that would lead the Cowboys.

I have the same faith; as I've written in this space before, InfalliBill gets paid $5 mil a year for games like that one.

One problem: If Parcells had "one ounce'' of special stuff left in his tank. ... where's the juice needed to beat the Redskins? And the Panthers? And the Rams?

Oh, and are we to assume that Joe Gibbs and Dick Vermeil and John Fox and the rest of the coming competition is already plumb outta ounces?

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