Dirk Nowitzki Still Expects To Play In 2017/18

Dirk Nowitzki has long intended to play at least 20 years in the NBA, and with the end of his 19th season fast approaching, those plans haven’t changed. Speaking to ESPN’s Marc Stein, Nowitzki said that his return for 2017/18 is a virtual lock, barring something unexpected happening in the coming weeks or months.

“I said last summer: I signed a two-year deal (and) that obviously meant I want to play for two more,” Nowitzki said. “I want to complete that deal.”

Nowitzki, 38, was plagued by an Achilles injury earlier this season, and hasn’t looked like his usual self. His averages of 13.6 PPG and .415 FG% are both the lowest marks he has posted since his rookie year way back in 1998/99. Still, as he has gotten healthier over the course of the year, the longtime Maverick has been more productive. In his last nine games, Nowitzki has averaged 16.2 PPG, 8.0 RPG, and a .438 FG%.

The Mavericks’ two-year deal with Nowitzki includes a team option worth $25MM for 2017/18, so it will be interesting to see whether the club simply picks up that option or negotiates a new contract with its star big man.

Team owner Mark Cuban has deferred to Nowitzki over the years, so I’d imagine that the club would be happy to pick up the option if that’s Nowitzki’s preference. Still, the German has taken pay cuts in the past, so it’s possible he’d want to do so again in what could be his last NBA season. Reducing that $25MM cap charge would give the Mavs more flexibility to splash around in free agency or on the trade market.

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