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Mark Cuban's Championship Blueprint Is Too Short-Sighted

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 28:  Owner Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks watches warm-ups before his team taks on the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on November 28, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Mavericks 101-78. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 10, 2013

That 2011 championship banner hanging inside the American Airlines Center feels like a historical artifact.

At 13-23, the Mavericks have fallen from championship status to life in the lottery.

And they've got only one person to blame for that violent crash—their boisterous leader, owner Mark Cuban.

Despite witnessing firsthand his club's ability to not only hang with, but actually defeat the manufactured super-teams, the owner sacrificed his championship core in a reckless pursuit of his own superstar collection.

He at least had the wherewithal to hold on to Dirk Nowitzki, but stripped the German of the tenacious supporting cast he knew he could win with.

Counting Nowitzki, the Mavericks have just four players left over from that championship club. With that kind of turnaround, that award-winning run may as well have been 17 years (not the real figure, 17 months) ago.

Cuban aimed for the stars (Dwight Howard and Deron Williams) and wound up with a rain check. The Mavericks added a slew of one-year contracts over the 2012 offseason, preparing for a follow-up superstar pursuit coming summer 2013.

But as the club has suffered through 13 losses in its past 15 games, the question moving to the forefront has been why any star would consider the Big D in their future plans.

And it's not fans or analysts alone asking the question.

It's none other than the face of the franchise himself, Nowitzki (according to ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon).

The 34-year-old knows he's on the wrong side of his career, and sees his championship window closing by the day.

What makes that knowledge so difficult to digest, though, is that Nowitzki sees some gaping voids in areas dominated by his former teammates.

The Mavericks have been bullied on the defensive end; opponents have torched Dallas to the tune of 103 points per game, the third-highest mark in the league.

And they've been battered and bruised on the glass—their minus-4.8 rebounding differential is the NBA's worst.

Coach Rick Carlisle's offensive system has been restricted by the franchise's inability to land a competent point guard to initiate his sets. No player on the team has averaged more than five assists per game.

So, let's see. This team lacks toughness, both on the defensive end and on the boards, and leadership in the backcourt.

Might Tyson Chandler, Jason Kidd, DeShawn Stevenson and J.J. Barea have been able to solve some of these issues?

After all, they did just that two seasons ago.

Another fruitless superstar chase by Cuban could effectively be ruining the twilight years of the superstar who's already there.

And if the owner can't build a team around a dynamic force like Nowitzki, how will he fare with a club minus the big man?

It's a question he'll need to address sooner than he'd care to admit.

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