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Friday, April 12, 2013
Mark Cuban promises 'rebuild'

By Tim MacMahon
ESPNDallas.com

DALLAS -- Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban blames himself for the franchise's failure to make the playoffs this season.

Cuban
Cuban

The Mavs were officially eliminated Wednesday night, ending a 12-year postseason streak that featured two trips to the NBA Finals and one championship. While Dirk Nowitzki missed a career-high 29 games because of injury, Cuban acknowledges he failed to construct a roster good enough to give the Mavs a chance to contend.

"We obviously should have had more," Cuban said before Friday's home game against the Denver Nuggets. "I don't know if we could have, but we should have. And so it's all on me. If that means I let (coach Rick Carlisle) down, I let Rick down.

"People always give me s---. 'Why do you put your email up on the screen? And why are you always out front?' This is why. So if someone's got a shot to take, take it at me. My job is to make sure we put everybody in position to succeed and we obviously didn't."

Cuban acknowledged that the Mavericks, who opted to create salary-cap space by allowing several key pieces of the 2011 title team to leave via free agency, now find themselves in rebuilding mode. However, he vowed that it would be a "quick rebuild," not a long-term process.

"I'm not making any predictions," Cuban said. "All I'm saying is we're not going to do a traditional rebuild. That's (why) we got all this cap room, so we wouldn't. We're going to be opportunistic."

Cuban admitted that he has pondered whether he took the right approach after the lockout, when he opted to offer only one-year deals to center Tyson Chandler and other free agents who were key contributors to the franchise's lone title run, essentially deciding that financial flexibility under the new collective bargaining agreement was more important than keeping the aging defending champions intact.

However, Cuban has continuously concluded that he took the right approach despite the results.

"Yeah, you always play it out," said Cuban, whose team was swept by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of last season's playoffs. "And I don't think we'd be any place different. We might be a playoff team. But I don't think we were going to go anywhere, right? We would have had the same injuries and same problems and we'd be sitting here saying, 'What are you going to do?' "

The Mavs' failures since their championship run have added fuel to Cuban's competitive fire. He's determined to aggressively explore all options -- the draft, free agency and the trade market -- to make the major upgrades necessary to give the Mavs a chance to return to contender status immediately.

Attempting to make those upgrades will be on Cuban's mind "24 hours a day, literally" this summer, he said. He added that he'd be on his computer almost every waking hour, studying NBA analytics and searching through every possible permutation of potential deals.

Cuban has committed to be the point man for the Mavs' free-agency recruiting pitches, unlike last summer, when he filmed the reality show "Shark Tank" while Carlisle, president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson and front office consultant Michael Finley traveled to New York to meet with Deron Williams.

Cuban later insisted he believed the Mavs were better off without Williams, but he accepts the fault for this season's flawed roster and intends to fix it this summer when nine Mavs' contracts will expire.

"Look, it didn't work out the way we planned," Cuban said. "It's all on me and Donnie. Period. End of story. It's our job to put people in position to succeed. We didn't do enough of it.

"It's not an apology. That's just the nature of the beast. I bust my ass to do as best as we can. No one hates losing more than me, so I'll keep on busting my ass and hopefully it will change."