DALLAS — Although he admittedly enters the offseason disappointed by his team’s 33-49 record this season, 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki says he’s more than ready to assist the Dallas Mavericks in whatever capacity is needed this summer.
Hampered by a right Achilles strain throughout his 19th campaign with the Mavericks, Nowitzki played in just 54 games this season for the lowest number of outings since his rookie year. He also averaged 14.2 points and 6.5 rebounds in 26.4 minutes per game, connecting on 43.7 percent from the field and 37.8 percent from three-point range. In the process, Nowitzki became just the sixth player in NBA history to reach 30,000 career points, moving only 1,159 points away from tying Wilt Chamberlain for fifth on the league’s all-time scoring list. But with the Mavs eager to retool this summer in order to build a championship contender, Nowitzki says he’s ready to work with team owner Mark Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson to help with the reconstruction of the roster.
“You know, if you go on with a team like I have for so long, if that’s what it takes, I guess that’s what it takes. I did that decision last summer when I decided to sign on,” Nowitzki explained after completing the first season of a reported two-year deal worth $50 million. “I obviously knew there was a possibility (of rebuilding), and at the end of the day I just can’t imagine myself in a different uniform, so that’s why I made that decision. Whatever comes, if we’re rebuilding, then I’m the face of that. If we’re (competing) for a championship, then I’m here for that. I’ve just identified myself with the organization so long, with the fan base here and with the city that, you know, no matter what the team or the franchise is going through, I’m right there to push it through. That’s why I signed on for two more years last year, and we’ll just wait and see what team we have next year. But I’m here, obviously, to help in any way I can and whatever situation we’re going to be in next year.”
This season, Nowitzki joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387), Karl Malone (36,928), Kobe Bryant (33,643), Michael Jordan (32,292) and Chamberlain (31,419) in the exclusive 30,000-point club. He also became just the third player in league history to score 30,000 points with one franchise, joining Malone with the Utah Jazz and Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers on that list. Nowitzki will now try to join Bryant as the sole members of the NBA’s 20-year, only-one-team club by returning next season. But with the NBA Draft fast approaching in June, the future Hall of Famer says he’s ready to lend his expertise to the Mavs’ front office off the court.
Entering Tuesday’s NBA lottery, the Mavericks currently sit in the No. 9 position in the draft. The Mavs have an 81.31-percent chance of staying at the No. 9 pick and just a .38-percent chance of falling outside the top 10. The Mavs also have a 1.7-percent chance at the No. 1 pick, a 2.0-percent chance at the second selection and a 2.41-percent chance at the No. 3 spot. That said, the No. 9 selection in the 1998 draft is ready to work with the Mavericks’ management team in order to help the franchise make the right pick wherever it may fall in the lottery.
“Unfortunately, since there’s no playoffs, we’ve got plenty of time now,” Nowitzki candidly said. “I’ll be around for a while, and I’m sure we’ll meet with Mark and with Donnie. You know, [Mavs coach Rick Carlisle] will be here and even [leading scorer Harrison Barnes], and we’ll just see how we can help and how we can make this better. Maybe I’ll be in the draft room this year, if that’s what it takes. … I think we’ve got plenty of time over the next few weeks to set a plan, execute the plan on draft day hopefully and maybe in free agency, and we’ll go from there.”