Dirk Nowitzki

Mavs Notes: Powell, Barea, Dirk, Porzingis

Mavericks big man Dwight Powell enjoyed a career year in 2018/19, establishing new career-highs in PPG (10.6) and FG% (.597) to go along with 5.3 RPG in a part-time role. Now, he’ll have to make a decision on a $10.26MM player option for 2019/20.

Speaking on Thursday to reporters, including Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link), Powell said, “I definitely want to be here.” However, he didn’t offer specifics on whether that meant picking up his player option or opting out and negotiating a new deal with Dallas. Even exercising his option and then working out a contract extension could be a possibility.

For their part, the Mavericks intend to do all they can to make sure Powell sticks with the team “for years to come,” president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said on Thursday (Twitter link via Townsend). According to Jeff Cavanaugh of 105.3 The Fan (Twitter link), owner Mark Cuban went a step further, suggesting during a radio appearance that the club plans to extend Powell for three seasons.

Nothing’s official yet, so while we wait to see what sort of agreement Powell and the Mavs might reach, let’s round up a few more items out of Dallas…

  • Veteran guard J.J. Barea continues to recover from a significant Achilles injury, but it sounds like the free-agent-to-be expects to be back with the Mavericks, as Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com relays (via Twitter). “I know what they want. They know what I want,” Barea said. “We’ll figure it out.”
  • Discussing his decision to retire earlier this week, Dirk Nowitzki said he just recently finalized his decision, adding that his ongoing foot issues helped cement his decision. “It just doesn’t make any sense to do that for one more season,” Nowitzki said, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Saad Yousuf of The Athletic, meanwhile, offers an entertaining oral history of Nowitzki’s final home game in Dallas.
  • Could Nowitzki become involved in the Mavericks’ ownership group during his retirement? Both he and Mark Cuban appear to be open to the idea, as Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com writes.
  • Kristaps Porzingis will be the Mavericks’ “No. 1 priority” this offseason, Donnie Nelson said on Thursday. Head coach Rick Carlisle intends to visit Latvia and Slovenia this summer to see Porzingis and Luka Doncic (Twitter links via Townsend).

Dirk Nowitzki Confirms He’s Retiring

After scoring 30 points against the Suns on Tuesday night, Dirk Nowitzki confirmed that the Mavericks‘ final home game of the 2018/19 season will also be the last home game of his 21-year NBA career (Twitter link via Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News). Nowitzki will retire at season’s end.

The ninth overall pick in the 1998 draft, Nowitzki spent his entire career with the Mavericks, appearing in over 1,500 regular season games with the team and playing in another 145 postseason contests. Over the course of two-plus decades in Dallas, Nowitzki averaged 20.7 PPG, 7.5 RPG, and 2.4 APG on .471/.381/.879 shooting. He also memorably led the Mavs to an NBA championship in 2011 against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and the Heat.

The 40-year-old ranks third on the NBA’s all-time list of games played and total minutes, and shows up on many more of the league’s historical leaderboards. Nowitzki was named the MVP in 2007 and earned 14 All-Star berths to go along with 12 All-NBA nods. He is also the only player to have spent 21 seasons with a single franchise.

While Nowitzki talked throughout the year about possibly coming back for one more season, he’ll instead join Wade in retirement following tomorrow’s regular-season finale in San Antonio. Wade also played his final home game tonight.

As for his next step, Nowitzki wants to remain around the Mavericks even if he’s no longer playing for the team, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who tweets that the club has been planning a “unique role” for the future Hall-of-Famer. Mavs owner Mark Cuban promised tonight that Nowitzki would have a “job for life” with the organization (Twitter link via Marc Stein of The New York Times).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dirk Nowitzki Talks Health, 21st Season, Doncic

Dirk Nowitzki has yet to make a definitive decision on whether he will retire at the end of this season. The Mavericks may not know what No. 41 is going to do but they are preparing a massive party for their final home game of the season, which is next Tuesday against the Suns.

“It’s going to be a special night whether he likes it or wants it or not,” Mavs owner Mark Cuban said (via the latest newsletter from Marc Stein of The New York Times, which you can subscribe to here).

Stein sat down with Nowitzki to talk about his 21st season in the league. Here are some highlights from the conversation:

On how he’s feeling now compared to the middle of the season:

“It’s been a lot better. It was so hard to try to fight back in the middle of the season — for seven weeks I pretty much did nothing. I couldn’t really enjoy myself for most of December and January. If I don’t get that inflamed tendon in my foot, maybe I’m actually having a decent year. I worked hard to get back to a decent level where I could play and compete with the guys. The last few weeks, I’m moving better, I’m feeling better, I’m playing more minutes, so I’ve been able to enjoy my time again on the court.”

On getting to compete in the 2019 All-Star Game:

“I really enjoyed myself. Amazing weekend, and I’m really thankful to the league and the Commish for making that happen and having me and Dwyane in it. I said before that the All-Star Game is for the players who really deserve to be there and carry their teams and their franchises, so I went there with the mindset that I really don’t want to play that much…I just thought that if I go there and make one 3 that’ll be awesome. But obviously [Bucks Coach Mike Budenholzer] subbed me in and the first look was kind of deep, and I shot it and it went in. The second one was even deeper and I thought: “Whynot? This will be your last time on this stage.” So I shot it and that one went in, too. It was definitely a moment I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.”

On the relationship he’s built with rookie Luka Doncic:

“He’s just such a confident young man that there’s not much you can really tell him. He’s got the experience, he’s got the confidence in crunchtime already — all that I had to work for…But off the floor, man, he is a kid. He’s never serious off the floor and obviously I’m not, either. He loves to have fun. We joke about everything and anything at all times. He’s just a funny dude. We enjoy our time together — I guess he took me under his wing.”

Nowitzki also talks to Stein about passing Wilt Chamberlain on the all-time scoring list and reflects on his 2018/19 numbers among other topics. The entire newsletter is worth a read.

Southwest Notes: Harden, Rockets, Dirk, Caboclo

Even after a grueling 2018/19 season, Rockets guard James Harden hopes to suit up for Team USA in the 2019 World Cup this September, as he tells Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

“Of course I want to play,” Harden said. “It’s an opportunity to represent your country, go out there and play basketball. It’s something I love doing. If that opportunity presents itself, I’ll be in. Not everyone gets that opportunity. As a basketball player, that’s one of the highest points you can get for basketball.”

Harden, who previously won gold medals for Team USA in the 2012 Olympics and the 2014 World Cup, is one of 35 players who was named to USA Basketball’s player pool for events between 2018-20. Obviously, not all of those players will get the chance to play on USA’s 12-man roster in the fall, but as the league’s reigning MVP, Harden probably has one of those 12 spots if he wants it.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Ray Allen hasn’t played in an NBA game since 2014, but Rockets GM Daryl Morey hasn’t given up hope that the veteran sharpshooter will decide to make an NBA comeback. Appearing last month on The Rich Eisen Show (video link), Morey referred to Allen as his “white whale,” vowing that he’d sign the 43-year-old to a 10-day contract right now if Allen were interested (hat tip to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype).
  • Longtime Mavericks big man Dirk Nowitzki hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning for a 22nd NBA season next year. While Tim Cowlishaw of The Dallas Morning News thinks retirement is the more likely outcome, he makes the case that playing another season wouldn’t negatively impact Nowitzki’s legacy.
  • In an excellent piece for The Athletic, Blake Murphy takes a deep dive into Bruno Caboclo‘s long, winding road to an NBA rotation role. With Caboclo playing regular minutes for the Grizzlies, Murphy spoke to a handful of his teammates and coaches, as well as draft expert Fran Fraschilla, who famously said that the young forward was “two years away from being two years away” when the Raptors selected him in 2014.

Mavs Notes: Vucevic, Doncic, Powell, Nowitzki

Magic center Nikola Vucevic praised Mavericks star Luka Doncic following their game on Friday, noting how impressive it is for Doncic to have such a high basketball IQ at just the age of 20.

Vucevic, who’s in the midst of his best NBA season to date, will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. His close relationship with Doncic could give the Mavericks an edge if they pursue Vucevic in free agency, especially if the Magic were to give an underwhelming offer.

“I got to know him a little bit at the All-Star game and when we played in Dallas – and also at the European championship, that’s where I first met him,” Vucevic said of Doncic, as relayed by Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News.

“I’m happy to see him do well. He’s a great kid and a great player and I’m very excited for him. I have to say, I didn’t expect him to play this well, this soon, as a rookie, especially a guy from Europe. But he’s been playing amazing. Obviously I always knew he would eventually get there because he’s very smart and with his skill-set and his I.Q., I know there’s really nothing he can’t do.

“He’s going to be a great player for the Mavs for a long time.”

The Mavericks’ first priority this summer is to re-sign restricted free agent Kristaps Porzingis, but Vucevic has been identified as a possible outside target. The veteran center is averaging a career-best 20.6 points, 12 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 31.3 games with Orlando this year.

There’s more out of Dallas today:

  • Mavs forward Dwight Powell could be a keeper for the club in the coming years, team play-by-play announcer Chuck Cooperstein said this week on ESPN Dallas 103.3. Powell has improved his three-point shooting and play-making since entering the league, with the 27-year-old holding a $10.2MM player option for the 2019/20 season. He’s averaged a career-high 9.8 points in 61 contests this season.
  • Tickets for the Mavericks’ final home game this season are noticeably more expensive than most other games, Brad Townsend notes in a different story for the Dallas Morning News. Unless he chooses to return for another season, it would be the final time Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki takes the court after a 21-year career in Dallas. Tickets are ranging from $145 for an upper-deck seat to $7,785 for a VIP courtside seat, according to Townsend. “That is a lot of money,” Nowitzki said. “That’s awesome, though. That means people want to come to that game. It’s amazing to hear about the support.”
  • Nowitzki isn’t interested in becoming an NBA head coach after his playing career despite having two decades of experience in the league, Dwain Price of Mavs.com writes. “Maybe like individual stuff, working with guys on skills, skill development, player development type stuff,” Nowitzki said. “I think that I would enjoy that, and I think obviously I’ve got some experience there. But head coaching? It’s just something that I’m not real interested in.”

Mavericks Notes: Porzingis, Nowitzki, Doncic

Kristaps Porzingis‘ camp contends that a story suggesting that Porzingis didn’t like the idea of playing in New York alongside Kevin Durant is “utter nonsense,” according to Frank Isola of The Athletic. In fact, Isola writes that Porzingis would welcome Durant with “open arms” if the Mavericks were to pursue and land 2019’s top free agent.

While Dallas created additional cap flexibility by trading Harrison Barnes to Sacramento at last month’s trade deadline, the idea of the Mavs signing Durant remains extremely unlikely. It’s possible that Dallas could make a splash in free agency this summer, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the top available players remain a little wary of joining the Mavs until they see Porzingis back on the court — and until Luka Doncic gets a little more NBA experience under his belt.

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • Although it’s not clear yet whether this will be Dirk Nowitzki‘s final NBA season, David Aldridge of The Athletic takes a look back at the German’s career and assesses his place in team – and league – history.
  • Within Aldridge’s story, Nowitzki says he believes the Mavs are set up well for the future: “Luka has obviously exceeded all expectations — we didn’t think he would be this good. We were hoping he would be this good. But he’s been tremendous, and it’s obviously something to build around. And we had a chance to go for a franchise-like talent like KP; you gotta go for it. Most of the league didn’t even know he was available. That was a steal for us. It obviously hurt, trading some of our guys, basically trading four of our five good starters, but with those two around for a long time, hopefully, it will be good for our franchise.”
  • Doncic has been considered a lock for the 2019 Rookie of the Year award for most of the season, but with Trae Young putting up huge numbers in Atlanta, Zach Harper of The Athletic revisits the race to determine whether Doncic still has it sewn up.
  • A 30-point home loss to Memphis on Saturday was embarrassing, but the matchup provided a reminder that things could be worse for the Mavericks. As Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News observes, well-paid Grizzlies veterans Mike Conley and Chandler Parsons were two of the free agents that the Mavs either missed out on (Conley) or opted not to sign (Parsons) in 2016. If that summer had gone differently in Dallas, there’s a good chance that Doncic and/or Porzingis wouldn’t be on the roster now, Townsend writes.

Nowitzki Not Ruling Out Playing One More Season

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.”

Adam Silver Calls Tanking “Corrosive”

NBA commissioner Adam Silver spoke out against tanking today in his annual All-Star Weekend address, calling the practice “corrosive,” relays Marc Berman of The New York Post.

“I, personally, don’t think it’s a winning strategy over the long term to engage in multiple years of rebuilding,’’ Silver said. “There’s a mindset that, if you’re going to be bad, you might as well be really bad. I believe personally that’s corrosive for those organizations.”

Silver lives in New York, Berman notes, and has daily exposure to the Knicks, who dropped 18 consecutive games before beating the Hawks on Thursday. The league changed its rules this year to reduce the benefits of having the worst overall record, giving equal odds at the top pick to the three bottom teams. However, the move hasn’t had the desired effect as the Knicks, Suns, Cavaliers and Bulls are far separated from the rest of the NBA in our latest Reverse Standings. The allure of adding a star such as Duke’s Zion Williamson is too tempting, even with the new odds.

“I’m pretty sure we acknowledged at the time we didn’t think we’d solve the problem,’’ Silver said, hinting that additional changes may be on the way.

Here are some more highlights from Silver’s speech:

  • The commissioner believes the recent trend of high-profile players making public trade requests is harmful to the league, relays Ben Golliver of The Washington Post. Pelicans center Anthony Davis is the latest star asking to be moved — a story dominated the trade deadline and figures to loom over everything else this summer. “I don’t like trade demands, and I wish they didn’t come,” Silver stated. “I wish all those matters were handled behind closed doors. . . . I think we could do a better job as a league in avoiding those situations that get to the point where players are demanding to be traded or, in a worst-case scenario, saying they won’t honor their contract.”
  • Silver brushed aside concerns that small-market teams can’t compete in the NBA, according to Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. The commissioner noted that the league has remained popular even with both New York teams, both Los Angeles teams and Chicago all missing the playoffs last season. “If you look at the success of the so-called big markets in the last five years, they’ve been at an all-time low in terms of their success on the floor,” he said. “… We didn’t have the traditional big market teams even playing in the playoffs.”
  • Silver admitted that the move to add Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade to the All-Star Game was suggested by a fan’s email, tweets ESPN’s Tim Bontemps.

Dirk Nowitzki Not Ruling Out Playing Next Season

In his record-setting 21st season with the same NBA team, Dirk Nowitzki is being treated like a player who will retire at season’s end, but the Mavericks legend is not fully committed to the idea.

Speaking to reporters, including Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News, at NBA All-Star Media in Charlotte Saturday, Nowitzki said he will re-evaluate how he feels after the 2018/19 season before deciding on retirement.

“It’s been humbling, even though I haven’t said this will be it,” Nowitzki said. “I’m going to wait and see the last couple of weeks, how my body feels and if I continue to see improvement and I’m still having fun, we’ll see.”

Nowitzki, 40, was added to the All-Star game along with Dwyane Wade — who confirmed the 2018/19 campaign will be his last — in honor of his likely Hall of Fame career. The German big man missed the started of the season due to ankle surgery but has carved out a role off Dallas’ bench. In 28 games, Nowitzki is averaging 4.7 PPG and 1.7 RPG in 11 minutes per contest — all career-lows.

While the production is a far cry from his MVP-type production a decade earlier, Nowitzki remains a valuable veteran in the Mavericks’ locker room. Nowitzki has served as a mentor for fellow European and Rookie of the Year candidate Luka Doncic. After Dallas acquired Kristaps Porzingis from the Knicks, Nowitzki expressed excitement in mentoring the fellow 7’0″-plus European.

If Nowitzki returns for another season, it would likely be in a role similar to the one he has played this year. The appeal of playing alongside a more seasoned Doncic and a healthy Porzingis — who is not expected to play in 2018/19 as he rehabs from ACL surgery — could entice Nowitzki into one more season.

Stein’s Latest: Porzingis, Heat, Raptors, Kings

Marc Stein of The New York Times reported last week that after meeting with Knicks‘ management, Kristaps Porzingis‘ camp gave the team a four-team list of preferred destinations in the event of a trade, with the Nets and Clippers among those would-be landing spots. In his latest newsletter for The New York Times, Stein fills in the other half of that wish list, reporting that the Heat and Raptors were also on it.

Of course, the Mavericks weren’t on the reported four-team list, which – as Stein explained last week – is one reason why the Knicks elected to move quickly and send Porzingis to Dallas. While Porzingis will only be a restricted – rather than an unrestricted – free agent this summer, it still might have cost the Knicks some leverage in trade talks if that wish list had leaked.

Here’s more from Stein’s latest newsletter:

  • Before sending Porzingis to Dallas, the Knicks made an effort to engage with the Kings on a potential swap involving Marvin Bagley III, but Sacramento “flatly rejected” those inquiries, according to Stein. Last week, Stein reported that the Kings had a similar response when New York asked about De’Aaron Fox.
  • Stein argues that the Suns‘ trade for Tyler Johnson was “far tougher to digest” than their decision to buy out Tyson Chandler so early in the season, since the deal with Miami saved the Heat a ton of money and didn’t address Phoenix’s most glaring need (a true point guard).
  • Stein’s newsletter also features a Q&A with Dirk Nowitzki, in which the Mavericks‘ longtime power forward discusses his involvement in All-Star weekend, his somewhat “frosty” history with Dwyane Wade, and Luka Doncic‘s potential, among other topics. Here’s what Dirk had to say about those comparing Porzingis and Doncic to him and Steve Nash: “I think they’re going to be great together. They both fit the new style of the NBA so well. Luka is bigger than Nashy, so he can make plays that Nashy could never make. And Zinger is even longer than me and more athletic and shoots it super easy from deep. He’s a good dude, hard worker — he wants to be great. We hope to see that combo in Dallas for a long, long time.”