8:13pm: Mavs owner Mark Cuban isn't looking as far ahead as Nowitzki, but won't turn his back on the team's superstar, according to Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I think it’s too early to start thinking about that," Cuban said. "Obviously I’ll keep on signing him."
8:34am: Dirk Nowitzki told reporters yesterday that he likely won't be back on the court for the Mavericks until at least mid-December. While that news isn't good in the short-term for the Mavs, Nowitzki is hopeful that the extra recovery time will bode well for his long-term health. As Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes, Nowitzki would like to play for a couple more years after his current contract ends, a timetable that would see him on the court through the 2015/16 season.
"Like I said a couple weeks ago, when I came back two years ago, the championship year, there was really no practice and I came back after three weeks and it took me a long time to kind of get back," Nowitzki said yesterday. "I’m not going to do that this year. I need to make sure everything’s right before I come back. I can’t rush. I’m hoping maybe after these two years (of his current contract) to play a couple more years. So it would be the wrong thing now to push it and come back too early and maybe make something worse for the long term."
Nowitzki is earning a salary of about $20.91MM this season and is in line to make about $22.72MM in 2013/14 before becoming eligible for unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2014. He'll be 36 years old at that point, with plenty of NBA mileage on his body, but considering the number of players we're seeing continue their careers into their late-30s these days, it wouldn't be surprising at all to see Dirk still playing well at that time. As a point of comparison, Kevin Garnett hit free agency at age 36 this summer and re-signed with the Celtics on a three-year deal.