Can Mavs rebuild without hitting rock bottom?

It might have been in the Mavericks’ best long-term interests to have a miserable season.

Mark Cuban would rather figure out a way to rebuild on the fly while keeping a dozen-year postseason streak alive -- and seeing what happens once the playoffs roll around.

Cuban is well aware of the recent examples of teams who hit rock bottom and rebound strong, such as the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. A lottery berth might be the easiest way to construct a contender-quality supporting cast around Dirk Nowitzki again.

But Cuban is too competitive to voluntarily go that route.

“I didn’t say you had to (hit bottom),” Cuban said. “That’s been part of the cycle in the past. I’m trying to figure out how to break that cycle.”

The temporary solution was to acquire as much talent as possible with minimal commitment from the Mavs. Veterans Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo, Chris Kaman, Elton Brand, Dahntay Jones, Eddy Curry and now Troy Murphy have been added to the roster, and the only commitment from the Mavs to any of those players after this summer is Mayo’s player option for next season.

The Mavs will have a ton of cap space again this summer. See any available superstars worth spending it on?

Cuban recently raised a bunch of eyebrows by claiming that he believes the Mavs are better off for missing out on prized point guard Deron Williams. He toned down the bravado a bit while chatting with reporters before the season opener, calling the Mavs a “decent” team.

Of course, decent hasn’t been the standard in Dallas since Cuban took over the team and the Dirk era took off.

“We’ll see where it goes,” Cuban said. “We put together a decent team and ended up winning the championship.”

The worst-case scenario for the Mavs is another mediocre season. And that’s an apt description for their failed title defense last season, when the Mavs had their lowest winning percentage since 1999-00, which was also the last season they didn’t win a playoff game.

Cuban has often said that getting stuck in the “mediocrity treadmill” is the worst thing that can happen for an NBA franchise.

However, Cuban doesn’t fear that happening for the Mavs. He’s optimistic about this season ... and capable of shedding a bunch of short-term contracts if the Mavs are mediocre.

“We haven’t taken a step back yet,” Cuban said. “My preference is never to take a step back.”