Dirk On Next Contract, Free Agency, Draft

Almost two years removed from leading a title run in which the Mavericks won their first championship in franchise history, Dirk Nowitzki was on the Fitzsimmons and Durrett show on 103.3 FM today (hat tip to Jon Machota of SportsDayDFW), where he made it clear that significant progress needs to be made this summer: 

“If we don’t get the two monsters (making reference to Dwight Howard and Chris Paul) then we got to find another way…through sign-and-trades or other free agents that are out there…It’s time to take a step forward and again be a threat in the playoffs.”

Following his radio appearance, Dirk spoke with ESPN Dallas and discussed the prospects of a pay cut on his next contract, his feelings on this year's free agency compared to last year, his role in the upcoming draft, along with the notion that breaking up the Mavs team that won it all in 2011 ended up being the right thing to do. You can read the transcript below (Bryan Gutierrez of ESPNDallas.com):

On whether or not he has an idea about how low he's willing to go in terms of a pay cut on his next contract:

“Not really. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. It kind of depends on what team we can get, too. I’ve always said that (Mark) Cuban has taken care of me for a long, long time. Money isn’t something I play for. I want to compete. I want to win. We’ll play this year and hopefully have a great team and then I’ll come off the books. Then, we can all sit together again and see how many guys we can get and who is out there. Saying all of that, I think that’s something I haven’t really thought about yet in terms of an actual number. We’d love to be as competitive as we can be.” 

Dirk plans to use the fact that he's willing to take a pay cut as a selling point to free agents:

"Yeah. Obviously, I’m not going to make $23 million again. I know that. I’m 36 next summer, so this is going to be my last year of making money like a franchise player. That gives us even more cap space next year. I’m sure it’s going to come up. We’ll see if that has an impact on anything or helps us bring anything. We’re obviously trying to sell the big picture and that’s one small part of it.” 

How the feelings going into this summer compare to last summer with regard to gearing up for a run at free agents:

 “I feel like we’re almost more all in, everybody is even more excited. Last year, (Deron Williams) would have been great, but he was kind of the only free agent that was out there that made sense for us. This year, I feel like there are a couple of more options. Cuban is so fired up not to go through another year like we just had. He’s all in to make something happen. If we don’t get a top free agent, whether it’s through other things like sign-and-trades and whatever, he’s committed to bringing this franchise back to where it belongs and that’s in the top four in the West and having home-court advantage. We’ve got some ways to go but as long as everyone is all in, it should be a fun summer.” 

On just how much influence he'll have as he joins team brass in the war room on draft night:

"I think that’s up to Cuban and (Donnie Nelson). I’m not going to make that decision. That’s a business decision they obviously need to make. I don’t understand the cap room situation and stuff like that as good as they do, so they need to make that decision. If that’s the case, then that’s what we need to do. We can go even all in more with free agents if we do that. 

If we don’t, we’ll see what’s available at 13. There are some interesting players in that spot. There’s some bigs and some guards. Honestly, if you look at our roster, we’ve got five guys. We need help from the top to the bottom. We can use big guys, we can use guards and we can use shooters and athletes. I’m sure we can find some help if we keep the pick.”

On changing his stance and conceding that breaking up the 2011 championship team was the right thing to do:

“Yeah, in the lockout year, we were hoping that we would have everybody back. Now, a year further along, I’m turning 35, (Jason Kidd) just retired and turned 40 and (Jason Terry) is going to turn 36. I’m not sure how far we could have ridden it. It would have been interesting to see and I would have loved to seen it. Like I mentioned in the interview, the lockout year was tough on the older guys and tough on their bodies. It was a lot of games heading into the playoffs. I’m not sure if we would have had a decent chance to repeat there. Business-wise, we had to make the decision. Looking back at it now, I think it was the right one.”

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