Dirk Nowitzki will opt out of his contract and become a free agent this summer, though he still plans to remain with the Mavericks, as he said today on the “Bob and Dan” show on KTCK-AM in Dallas, notes Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com (Twitter link and ESPN Now link). That confirms an earlier report from Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram but runs counter to Nowitzki’s previous statements indicating that he would remain under contract.
Nowitzki spoke to the radio hosts about his desire to work with owner Mark Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson to improve the team, though it’s uncertain what sort of salary Nowitzki will insist upon. The option is worth slightly more than $8.692MM, which would have been a major bargain for Dallas, particularly given the escalating salary cap. It’s conceivable that Nowitzki will take a further discount, given his loyalty to the team, though it remains to be seen.
The star power forward, who turns 38 this June, hinted subtly in March that remaining with the Mavericks beyond this season wasn’t a foregone conclusion, suggesting he would evaluate his options if Dallas were to pivot into full-scale rebuilding. Still, he’s otherwise given every indication he intends to remain with the Mavs, the only team he’s played for during his 18 NBA seasons.
Chandler Parsons has said that he intends to opt out, confirming what had been the general assumption, notes Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News, and Deron Williams plans to do so as well, as sources told MacMahon last week. Their options, plus Nowitzki’s, are collectively worth more than $30.3MM, so Dallas would have only about $29MM in guaranteed salary commitments against a projected $92MM cap if all three players decline their options as expected.
The Mavericks nonetheless want to re-sign all three, so their cap holds would occupy more than $38.9MM until they either sign new deals or Dallas renounces them. MacMahon reported that Parsons is in line to receive max offers, which will likely come close to $22MM for next season, exceeding the value of his $19,969,950 cap hold. Williams also appears due for a raise, so just how much cap space the Mavs will have is up in the air. Still, the opt-out from Nowitzki ultimately allows him and the Mavs greater flexibility, helping explain his choice to become a free agent. The deadline for all three Mavs to formally decide on their options is June 22nd.