Dirk Nowitzki‘s current plan is to spend 20 total seasons with the Mavericks, which would mean playing out his current two-year contract and then likely calling it a career in 2018. However, as he continues to battle Achilles issues, Nowitzki acknowledged that retiring a year early, in 2017, remains a possibility.
“If things don’t go so well and it hurts everywhere, it could be that 2017 will be the end,” Nowitzki told German magazine Sport Bild, per AFP.com. “Actually, my plan is to complete the 20 years and play for Dallas until 2018. But just because I have signed a two-year contract doesn’t automatically mean that I will play for two years. It could happen next year.”
Nowitzki’s two-year deal with the Mavericks, which he signed over the summer, features a guaranteed salary for 2016/17, followed by a team option for 2017/18. Dallas will have until the end of June to exercise or decline that option, so if the veteran German forward has made his own decision by that point, it should be an easy call for the team.
Still, while Nowitzki’s injury woes this year have been discouraging, Mavs fans shouldn’t panic about his latest statement, according to Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. As Sefko writes, Nowitzki has suggested all along that his two-year deal won’t necessarily bind him to playing in 2017/18. His plan has always been to play out the contract if he can, and the Mavs’ training staff is optimistic that the 38-year-old can still get healthy this season and have a strong second half. If that happens, there’s a very good chance Nowitzki continues his career in ’17/18.
If Nowitzki does play one more season, he could be joined by a promising young teammate. As our 2016/17 Reverse Standings show, Dallas is currently tied for the NBA’s worst record, which would give the team a great shot to land a top-three pick.