Storyline: Dirk Nowitzki Free Agency

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4 weeks ago via ESPN

The Mavericks have a Thursday deadline to notify the league of their intentions regarding the second season of the two-year, $50 million contract Nowitzki signed last July. But sources told ESPN that the club will work with Nowitzki next month to structure a new deal to his liking. A two-year deal is an option being strongly considered, sources said, despite the fact Nowitzki has made it clear that he wants to make decisions on a season-by-season basis at this stage of his career.
4 weeks ago via ESPN

The Mavericks’ plan, according to one source, is to do “what Dirk wants.” Nowitzki turned 39 last week and is poised to tie Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant for the longest run in league history — 20 seasons — playing for only one team. The Mavericks are coming off a 33-49 campaign, their worst since the 1997-98 season that set them up to acquire Nowitzki via a draft-night trade with Milwaukee for the No. 9 overall pick in June 1998.
8 months ago via ESPN

He hopes to complete the two-year, $50 million contract he signed over the summer, which would allow him to join Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant in the 20-seasons-with-one-team club, but Nowitzki has always said he will listen to his body and hang up his Nikes when basketball is no longer fun. Right now, the 38-year-old Nowitzki is mired in basketball misery. His Mavs (3-14) have the NBA’s worst record, and Nowitzki can do nothing to help, as he is sidelined for at least the rest of the week. “It’s hard to listen to him,” Mavs owner Mark Cuban said. “The dude bitches like a m—–f—–.”
8 months ago via ESPN

“Guys are learning to play in an environment that is very realistic, as opposed to the nirvana that he’s provided here for close to two decades,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “The one thing that I think this period should point out to historians of the game is his level of greatness. It’s just another strong indication of how great he has been [and] is and the kind of impact he has. When he’s out there on a consistent basis, it’s a game-changer.” There is plenty of proof of that. Start with the Mavs’ 15 playoff appearances, 12 50-win seasons, two Finals trips and one title during a stretch in which Nowitzki had more than twice as many All-Star selections as all his teammates put together. Nowitzki, the sixth-leading scorer in NBA history, ranks seventh in win shares, one spot behind Duncan.

Tim MacMahon: The Mavs would have to move some salary to be in the market for a max-contract player next summer if Dirk Nowitzki returns for the second season of his contract. Dallas has $61.1 million in salary committed to players for the 2017-18 season, assuming promising 2015 first-round pick Justin Anderson’s $1.6 million option is picked up. That would leave less than $16 million in space under the projected cap of $102 million if Nowitzki returns to play his 20th season for a $25 million salary. ESPN’s Marc Stein reports that the second season of Nowitzki’s two-year, $50 million deal features a $5 million team option in case the face of the franchise opts to retire.

If the decision were based purely on basketball, it’d be an easy call. However, as competitive as Nowitzki is, he’s even more loyal. He says he belongs to the city of Dallas. He won’t turn his back on his American hometown, even though he’d be welcomed back with standing ovations. He’s also a devoted husband and father who doesn’t want to uproot his family. Thick or thin, all indications are Nowitzki is still all in with the Mavs.

Wednesday, Nowitzki joined the “Ben & Skin” show on KRLD-FM 105.3 The Fan and said he hasn’t completely made up his mind on opting out of his deal with Dallas. Nowitzki, who already has met with general manager Donnie Nelson and says he’ll meet with owner Mark Cuban soon, has until the final week of June to accept or decline his player option. “Just trying to find out what the best [thing to do] is,” he said. “Is it best to stay in the contract and play next year and keep the same pay, or should I opt out? Is that best for the franchise? Just trying to find out from Donnie and Mark what’s out there, what the plan is. So, 100 percent, my mind’s not made up, but I’m leaning toward opting out and trying to help, and see what’s out there.”

He added: “If [Nowitzki] takes care of his body, I think he’s got a couple of more good years in him. And who knows, he might be one of those guys that actually hits 40. But those are decisions that he makes, in terms of what the goal is, and the goal will always be winning with Dirk. No matter what, he’s all about winning, so we’re hopeful that it’s here in Dallas.” Looking to ink Nowitzki to a longer deal this summer, the Mavericks will try to maximize the future Hall of Famer’s final seasons by remaining competitive in the West. But after seeing the emergence of rookie Justin Anderson and second-year standout Dwight Powell this season, the Mavs will also try to surround Nowitzki with a younger supporting cast that’s capable of growing together over the years.

Nowitzki told The Fan hosts that he isn’t completely sure of his decision quite yet. He has until the final week of June to accept or decline his player option, and his decision could potentially depend in part on what general manager Donnie Nelson and owner Mark Cuban believe could help the franchise most. Nowitzki has already met with Nelson and said he’ll meet with Cuban soon. “Just trying to find out what the best (thing to do) is,” he said. “Is it best to stay in the contract and play next year and keep the same pay, or should I opt out? Is that best for the franchise? Just trying to find out from Donnie and Mark what’s out there, what the plan is. So, 100%, my mind’s not made up, but I’m leaning toward opting out and trying to help, and see what’s out there.”

DIrk Nowitzki to opt out of his contract

Tim MacMahon: Dirk Nowitzki said that he will opt out of the final season of his contract, a change from his previous statements. “We had one more year on the contract, but I think this is the right thing to do,” Nowitzki said on 1310 The Ticket in Dallas. “We’re going to sit with Mark and Donnie obviously over the next few weeks and figure out how to improve this franchise again. Ever since after the championship, we’ve been basically a first-round exit. We’ve been a seven, eight seed. We’ve only won a few playoff games, and obviously the goal was to compete at the highest level in my last couple of years, so there is some moving to do, some thinking, some putting our heads together the next few weeks heading into free agency, heading into the draft. So this is just one move that hopefully starts a chain reaction for us to get better again, to compete really at a high level. We’ll see how it goes.”

The first domino the Mavs would like to fall as they regroup and bid to go further than the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2011 is re-signing superstar forward Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki plans to opt out of the last year of his current contract, which would pay him $8.7 million next season. And his new contract will probably be a two-year deal with a player option for the second year. “There is not a player that I’ve been around that has his kind of winning software,”said Donnie Nelson, the team’s president of basketball operations. “He’s our Roger [Staubach], our Troy [Aikman], our Mike Modano, Nolan Ryan. That’s who he is, so he deserves the courtesy of the first sit-down.”

Tim MacMahon: Rick Carlisle: “We’ve got to hope that this isn’t Dirk’s last game as a Maverick. Now he has the option to become a free agent. I’m ready to get on a plane and go to Germany and recruit him to be back, but I don’t think we can take that for granted. I think we have to give him that kind of respect. He’s done so much for our organization. He’s sacrificed so much. And it’s been such a life-changing experience for me to be around a player of that magnitude for eight years. It’s indescribable. I think he will be back, but I don’t want anybody to just assume anything, because he’s been too great.”
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