Good news for people who don’t want Dirk Nowitzki to retire after this season: The Dallas Mavericks’ record won’t have any bearing on whether he hangs it up for good this summer.
As he told ESPN.com’s Tim MacMahon:
Year 20 could potentially be it for Nowitzki, who has matched Kobe Bryant’s record for longest career while playing for only one franchise. Nowitzki, however, hopes to play at least one more year.
“It’s how the body feels,” Nowitzki told ESPN, adding that the Mavs’ place in the standings won’t play a part in his decision.
“I’d love to play every game. I’m not sure how realistic it is, but that’s how I approached the season. I want to be out there, want to move and want to be out there with the guys. We’ll just have to sit and relax [after] I play through the season and see how I feel. Probably that decision won’t be made until the summer.”
Nowitzki has another year and $5 million left on his current deal (team option). The hope, the belief, has always been that he’d try playing through the end of it. But the Mavericks’ situation could change things, at least in theory.
Only the Sacramento Kings and Chicago Bulls are posting a worse net rating at the moment. The Mavericks are being outscored by 9.5 points per 100 possessions—a lower mark than that from the 26-win Los Angeles Lakers last season.
Knowing Dallas is in the early stages of a rebuild, and that they want to develop Harrison Barnes as a power forward, Nowitzki could take this year as a sign that he should walk away. Sure, he can play center. And yes, he isn’t the kind of veteran who takes too many touches away from youngsters like Dennis Smith Jr. But who, at age 40, will want to play for a sub-30-win squad?
Nowitzki apparently. And good for him. He has his championship, and he’s a Mavericks lifer. If he still enjoys the game and his body isn’t completely betraying him, he should absolutely keep going. He may not be able to help the Mavericks contend for a playoff spot, but he can certainly impart wisdom and character unto the next-era kiddies.