When Clippers head coach Doc Rivers called a late-game timeout on Monday and encouraged fans to recognize Dirk Nowitzki in what could be his last ever game in Los Angeles, Nowitzki joked after the game, “They’re making the [retirement] decision for me, I guess,” (link via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com).
After all, unlike fellow honorary All-Star Dwyane Wade, Nowitzki has never said that 2018/19 will be his last season. And based on his comments on Wednesday night, it sounds like there’s a real chance it might not be.
As Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News relays, the longtime Mavericks big man said on Wednesday that he’s feeling much healthier than he did in the fall and early winter, when he was making his way back from a left foot injury. His production has reflected that — he has started the Mavs’ last three games and scored in the double digits in all three contests. He came off the bench in his 27 games before that, reaching the 10-point mark just three times.
Nowitzki has often said that he wants to keep playing as long as he thinks he can still contribute and if his body allows for it. According to MacMahon, Nowitzki said on Wednesday that he feels he’s contributing now after “struggling just to get up and down” earlier in the season. So, assuming he stays healthy, is he considering the possibility of teaming up with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis in Dallas in 2019/20?
“I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it,” Nowitzki said, per Townsend. “I would love to be there for the young guys one more year, but I think it depends on how the body feels. I’ve had issues obviously this year. I had some knee swelling here the last few weeks, actually before the All-Star break, so it’s not all great. But like I said I am feeling better. I am feeling stronger. But I think I’m going to make that decision later on.”
While Nowitzki won’t make any decisions on his retirement quite yet, he’s optimistic that the Mavericks are on the right track whether or not he returns.
“I think the future’s bright. I think Luka and KP, if they stay healthy, stay together, they should be a great combo,” Nowitzki said, per MacMahon. “They should play great off each other. Both have an incredible skill set for their size, incredible play-making ability for their size. They should jell well, but we have to see how it goes next year.”