Tuesday 18th June 2024,
The Hoop Doctors

Would Dirk Consider Leaving the Mavericks After Next Season?

Don’t stop me if you’ve heard this one before, because I know you have.

With the Dallas Mavericks unlikely to make the NBA playoffs this season, and Dirk Nowitzki eligible to become a free agent after next year, it’s about time we turned his future in Big D into a hot mess.

Okay, it really isn’t, but it’s already happening anyway.

Nowitzki was asked again about his future with the team and the one-time NBA champion was nothing short of both loyal and vague in his answer (via Sam Amick of USA Today):

But if nothing has changed by next season, if the Mavericks’ imperfect-but-prudent plan to counteract the league’s harsh new collective bargaining agreement backfires because they aren’t able to land an impactful free agent this summer and return to the elite level during the twilight of Nowitzki’s career? Might Nowitzki — who will be a free agent in the summer of 2014 — considering retiring in a jersey other than the Mavs’ one he has always worn?

“Now that I already reached my goal (of winning it all), I really want to finish my career in Dallas,” Nowitzki told USA TODAY Sports recently. “But saying all that, I don’t want another year next year with the same as this year, (with) the frustration and playing for the eight or nine seed. I think we all know that this is a very big summer for us. (Mavericks general manager) Donnie (Nelson) knows. Cuban knows. We want to get back to the championship level.”

Even if we were a fly lodged in Dirk’s brain, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for us to pinpoint where his had will be at in 2014.

Personally, I don’t think Nowitzki will be a lock to return to Dallas after next season. Not because he doesn’t love the Mavericks and the perpetually-jovial Mark Cuban (he does), but because he’ll be 35 going on 36 by the time he has to make that decision.

I’m not saying he’s going to leave either. So much of his decision will have to do with a) his health and b) the state of the Mavericks.

Nowitzki said he doesn’t want to go through another year like this one, dwelling near the bottom of the Western Conference, and I believe him. I also believe he’ll be inclined to remain in Dallas because he’s won a championship already. That said, there’s a difference between underdog and lottery bound.

If the Mavericks aren’t considered favorites for a title, but have a roster that can contend with the likes of the west’s top five convocations, I don’t think he hesitates to return. Should the Mavs miss the playoffs next season or fail to add anyone of significance between now and next season (or both), I firmly believe Dirk will consider leaving. Like really consider it.

While he doesn’t need a title to validate his place in the league, he does need to have something the play for. Again, he doesn’t need the Mavericks to be the Oklahoma City Thunder or Miami Heat. He just needs them to be more competitive than they were this season. And we can’t blame him.

Dirk has dedicated his career to transforming the Mavericks into a winner. If he is to forego retirement after next season, why would he want to spend what little time he has left contending for mediocrity?

He shouldn’t, and he won’t. Or at least, I don’t believe he will.

Don’t start packing Nowitzki’s bag yet. His preference is clearly to remain in Dallas.

If the Mavericks fail to make his decision an easy one, though, then I’d have the luggage handy. Just in case.

Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.

Like this Article? Share it!