2:13pm: MacMahon posted a YouTube video of Nowitzki’s comments today to reporters, and it includes a direct explanation of the comments he made Thursday on the “Ben and Skin Show” on KRLD-FM.
“If I’m not mistaken, the question was, if we’re going through a rebuilding phase, is what they asked me yesterday, and obviously I want to compete,” Nowitzki said. “I want to compete at the highest level. I always want to make the playoffs, and even more. So, if that’s what the Mavs are going to do is rebuild, then, you know, well, we’ll just have to wait and see.”
1:27pm: Dirk Nowitzki plans to pick up his nearly $8.7MM player option for next season to return to the Mavericks, as he said to reporters, including Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com (Twitter link). Nowitzki added that he’s envisioned playing the rest of his career with the Mavs ever since they won the 2011 title, but he doesn’t want to be part of a rebuilding effort, MacMahon tweets. The former MVP deflected a question in a recent radio interview about whether he’d leave the Mavs if they went into rebuilding, not making a definitive statement one way or another. However, it appears that he’ll be in a Dallas uniform through at least next season, the last on a discounted three-year contract he signed in 2014.
“I always said I wanted to play those three years to the end,” Nowitzki said.
Nowitzki told USA Today’s Sam Amick in November that he planned to “ride this contract out,” presumably a signal that he would opt in. He said in the same interview that he’s not sure whether he’ll retire after next season, but he hinted at sticking around longer when he spoke to MacMahon in a subsequent chat, saying he values the idea of playing 20 years with the Mavericks. This season is Nowitzki’s 18th in the NBA, all of them with Dallas.
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle recently spoke about Nowitzki’s loyalty to the organization, which became abundantly clear when he signed his existing contract, worth only $25MM total over three seasons, when he could have held out for significantly more. The idea that Nowitzki sees rebuilding as anathema ostensibly leaves the door open for him to leave Dallas at some point, but his willingness to make financial sacrifices means the Mavs have an easier financial path to surrounding him with top-flight talent, making it less likely they rebuild. Dallas would have as little as about $37.7MM on the books for next season against a salary cap of between $90MM and $95MM if Nowitzki opts in, though that doesn’t count any salary for Chandler Parsons, who’s expected to opt out, or Deron Williams, who has a player option worth roughly $5.6MM.
Nowitzki remains highly productive, leading the team with 18.8 points per game. His 38.6% 3-point percentage is right in line with his career 38.3% rate of accuracy.