Get Dirk Nowitzki some help

A little help? The Mavs need to upgrade the cast around Dirk Nowitzki. Glenn James/NBAE/Getty Images

This is a place Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks haven't been at any point in the past 12 years -- six games under .500 in mid-January, lacking in the talent department, four games out of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Keep in mind, too, that all of this comes on the heels of a four-game winning streak.

Losing with any regularity simply hasn't happened since Mark Cuban took over as Dallas' majority owner back in January 2000, when he used his unwavering commitment, large checkbook and a 23-year-old named Dirk to transform the Mavs into a perennial playoff contender almost overnight.

The Mavs won 53 games in 2000-01, and they were well on their way. The next season it was 57. A season after that, they reached 60.

In fact, under Cuban the Mavs have won at least 50 games every season (not counting the 36 from last season's lockout-shortened campaign) and made the playoffs 12 years in a row.

For that streak to continue, though, the Mavs (17-23) more than likely will need to make a move or two to strengthen the core of this team. Nowitzki is 34 now and is signed only through next season, so the window is rapidly closing. Cuban is well aware of that and has said he is open for business.

Let's take a look at the issues they face and the players they might target.

What stands in Dallas' way

From a roster standpoint, the Mavericks lack the pieces that prospective trade partners are likely to find attractive from either a talent or salary standpoint.