DALLAS — Dirk Nowitzki would do anything to see the Dallas Mavericks return to championship contention. He’d even take money out of his own bank account to facilitate the acquisition of a running mate that’s capable of helping the Mavericks recapture the title.
Signing a reported three-year deal worth $25 million, that’s essentially what the 12-time All-Star did to help the Mavs’ front office lure 25-year-old small forward Chandler Parsons away from the Houston Rockets with a three-year, $46 million offer sheet during free agency. However, the unselfish act came as no surprise to Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who says that Nowitzki puts winning above everything else.
“I mean, Dirk and I sit and talk about all this stuff,” Cuban told 105.3 FM The Fan last week. “He knows the strategy, what we’re trying to do and why we’re doing it. And he realizes, if he didn’t do it, the chances of him being in a championship position weren’t nearly as good. Dirk is very, very good at saving his money. And Holger [Geschwindner], his ‘agent,’ wears the same three pairs of pants and three shirts and carries it in a gym bag, so he’s very good at saving his money and there wasn’t a lot of stress there. And so Dirk and I laid it all out on the line. He no question could have gotten paid more money, but he wants to win.”
Originally expected to sign a similar contract as San Antonio Spurs big man Tim Duncan at three years worth $30 million, Nowitzki was already slated to take a substantial pay cut after making $22.7 million a season ago. Instead, Nowitzki left even more money on the table to assist the Mavs’ brass in building a roster capable of once again competing for the NBA title.
Nowitzki also reportedly walked away from max-level offers from other teams, looking to finish his career with the only franchise he’s ever suited up for while helping the Mavs return to prominence. That act of sacrifice wasn’t lost on Parsons, who says he has always admired Nowitzki from a far since entering the league in 2011.
“It just shows the kind of guy he is,” Parsons said shortly after learning of Nowitzki’s pay cut to pave the way for his addition to the Mavericks. “You know, Dirk is a true professional and he’s so loyal to Dallas and to this organization. Those are the type of guys that you want in the locker room and those are the type of guys that you want to play with. Obviously, that just shows what a team guy he is to take a cut like that for Cuban and [team president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson] to have flexibility and go out to get guys like me to try to make the Mavericks the best possible team and to compete for championships. Obviously, he knows he could have made more than that and he deserves more than that, but he’s so unselfish and would do anything for the team. That’s part of the reason that I respect him so much.”
But, now that Parsons will assume the title of the Mavs’ highest-paid player, much responsibility will also come his way.
Parsons saw a steady increase in his production each of his first three seasons with the Rockets, averaging career-high numbers across the board in 2013-14 at 16.6 points per game, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists an outing. Now, the former Florida standout and 38th overall pick in the 2011 draft will try to prove that Nowitzki’s unselfishness was well worth it, looking to take another step in his budding career alongside his idol.
“I think in Chandler’s case, in talking to him, he wants to prove that he’s worth it and he’s working his [tail] off to do it,” Cuban said. “You never know until you know, and it’s not like he only had one or two years. He did it for three years, and he was good. … You know, what he said to me is that he wants to come in and have a phenomenal season and prove to everybody that he’s worth every penny. He wants to be a cornerstone for the Dallas Mavericks. That’s where his head’s at.”