DALLAS – As expected, the Dallas Mavericks re-signed superstar forward Dirk Nowitzki to a one-year contract on Monday morning, reportedly worth $5 million.
The deal sets Nowitzki up to play all 21 years of his NBA career for the Mavs. That’s the most for one player with one franchise ever, breaking the record set by Kobe Bryant, who played all 20 years of his NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
But the lingering question Mavs want to know: Will this be Nowitzki’s final season before he retires?
After this past season ended, Nowitzki addressed that poignant question by saying: “I said a couple of years ago that was it for (playing on the German) National Team, and then we got the Euros in Berlin and I had to drag my 37 year old butt up and down in the European Championships, which I thought was never going to happen. I basically came back and played in those Euros, so you never say never.”
Nowitzki, who turned 40 on June 18, is the NBA’s sixth all-time leading scorer with 31,183 points and needs just 237 points to pass Wilt Chamberlain, who is fifth on the all-time list with 31,419 points. The 7-footer holds most of the Mavs’ individual franchise records and was the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2007.
“I think I guess at this age you kind of take it one year at a time,” said Nowitzki, who led the Mavs to the 2011 NBA title. “It sounds cliché, but that’s how it is — see how I come through (next season).
“I came through pretty good this year.”
Nowitzki played 77 games this past season and averaged 12 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting 45.6 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from 3-point range in 24.7 efficient-like minutes. But he missed the last four games of the season after undergoing a surgical debridement of his left ankle.
The love of money isn’t the reason Nowitzki has stayed in the NBA for over half his life. He has plenty of that.
“I still enjoy it, I still enjoy competing, I enjoy going out there helping the team compete,” Nowitzki said after the season. “If I wouldn’t have fun doing it anymore and competing, then it’s time to go.
“But I still enjoy coming in during the summer doing all the work and staying ready and getting ready for the season, and during the season keeping my body right. I still enjoy the grind, like I said, but it’s definitely coming to an end soon, that’s for sure.”