On Monday night, the playoff hopes of Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks ended with a 118-104 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Ultimately, Oklahoma City’s firepower was too much for what was left of the depleted Mavericks team. Despite a plethora of injuries across the board, Dallas knew that the team could once again lean on their unwavering force in Nowitzki.
Even at the age of 37, Nowitzki was once again the backbone for the Mavericks, and his 24-point performance in Game 5 kept Dallas afloat. Now, with a $8.69 million player option on the table, Nowitzki has a choice to make. However, as fully expected, Nowitzki’s loyalty and consistent mentality make his player option as predictable as they come.
After the loss to the Thunder, Nowitzki discussed his future in the NBA with ESPN while providing a big hint into his future with Dallas as well.
“I always said I wanted to retire [with] the Mavs, especially after we won the championship a few years ago. There’s no reason to go anywhere unless the Mavs are rebuilding. I always said that the last couple of years, I’d never want to be a part of rebuilding. Next season, I’ll be 38. As long as we go for it and every summer we add guys and keep competing, then I’ll be a Mav for the rest of my career.”
As Nowitzki’s comments indicate, Dallas has an important offseason ahead. Contributors like Deron Williams and Chandler Parsons have player options as well, and both may test the free agent market with the cap rising this summer. Additionally, the contracts of Zaza Pachulia and Raymond Felton will soon expire as well.
DIRK!!— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) April 26, 2016
Dirk Nowitzki has passed Scottie Pippen for 14th on the all-time postseason scoring list. pic.twitter.com/gaVIeCUj6V
With Nowitzki gearing up for more roster turnover, it is clear that he wants veteran replacements who can get the job done as his NBA career nears a close. Although Nowitzki left the door slightly open to departure, there are no signs of a rebuild in Dallas. Given his comments, it is likely that Mark Cuban will attempt to reload the Mavericks’ roster with a big name after missing out on DeAndre Jordan last summer. Fortunately, with Rick Carlisle at the helm, the Mavericks can set their eyes on a playoff appearance even if the roster is underwhelming. Heading into this season is the perfect example, where the Mavericks were expected to win nowhere near 42 games with Pachulia and Williams set to play massive minutes.
Despite the relative success of the team, Nowitzki’s regression this season was clearly evident. He posted the second-highest three-point attempt rate in his career this season and the lowest free throw rate in his career, according to Basketball-Reference. Still, his mark of 20.9 points per 36 minutes and 36.8 percent three-point shooting gives him a place in the league today, and Dallas’ financial flexibility and track record of winning give the organization hope this offseason.
However, despite Nowitzki’s affirmative tone when talking about committing to Dallas for another year, Carlisle is less certain about his big man. Although he is not worried about Nowitzki leaving, he is well aware that taking his return for granted could prove to be fatal, according to CBS Sports.
In the end, Nowitzki’s love for Dallas and his commitment to retiring as a Maverick is clear. He took a pay cut on his last contract to stay in Dallas, allowing the Mavericks to allocate their cap space elsewhere. With his recent comments, there is little doubt that Nowitzki will once again lead Dallas into another season in 2016.
[Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]