Dirk Nowitzki

Latest On Dirk Nowitzki: Role, Ankle Injury

Dirk Nowitzki isn’t sure if he’ll start or become the Mavericks’ sixth man during his 21st season in the league, according to Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News.

The free agent addition of DeAndre Jordan would logically push Nowitzki to the bench but he isn’t sure if that will be the case. He could play power forward alongside Jordan if coach Rick Carlisle goes with a biggest lineup.

“Obviously, DeAndre’s going to be our starter at the five position and the rest will just kind of fall in place after that,” Nowitzki said. “If (Harrison Barnes) goes back to the four or we start other ways, I have no idea as of yet. But it’s a great problem to have. We want to be a franchise that is back in the playoffs and plays well and has fun again and doesn’t lose 60 games again.”

Coming off the bench would force Nowitzki to make an adjustment. He’d have to take steps to be ready once his number is called.

“I have no problem with that. I already told (the training staff) if that’s the case, they better keep me loose,” Nowitzki said. “We better get a (stationary) bike ready somewhere because if I warm up and sit somewhere for 15, 20 minutes, that’s going to be an issue. But no, hey, if that’s the role, and we’ll play great with it, then I’m all for it.”

Nowitzki came off the bench six times during the 2012/13 season but has since started every game in which he’s played. He appeared in 77 games last season as Carlisle carefully managed his minutes. He averaged 24.7 MPG last season, the fewest since his rookie campaign in 1998/99.

Nowitzki’s recovery from left ankle surgery has gone well and he’s confident he’ll be 100 percent by opening night, Sefko reports in a separate story. He began scrimmaging last week and felt some discomfort in the ankle but attributes that to the normal recovery process. He underwent the procedure in April.

“There were two bone spurs that kind of blocked me from doing (forward push and lateral movement) things. So they took those bone spurs out and now there’s a lot more movement in the ankle,” Nowitzki told Sefko about the surgery. “But all the tendons in the ankle aren’t used to moving that much now. Every now and then, it’s a little stiff. I scrimmaged a little last week and on Monday and it hasn’t really reacted amazing to it. But we’re positive that it’ll be fine.”

Mavs Notes: Jordan, Marion, Doncic, Mejri, Barea

As part of an ongoing series in anticipation of Mavericks training camp starting later this month, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News asks whether newly-acquired All-Star big man DeAndre Jordan is on the downslope of his career.

Now a 10-year veteran, Jordan actually averaged 12.0 points and a career-best 15.2 rebounds per game last season for the Clippers, but the team did not perform well, finishing 10th in the always tough Western Conference. Moreover, Jordan’s field goal percentage of .645, while still excellent, was his lowest output since the the 2012/13 season.

While it remains to be seen if Jordan’s game is on the decline, the Mavericks at least somewhat hedged their bet by only signing Jordan to a one-year contract for the 2018/19 season, which will allow the club opportunity to see how Jordan meshes with relative youngsters Dennis Smith Jr., Luka Doncic and Harrison Barnes.

If Jordan ends up descending into the twilight of his career, the Mavs can simply let him go next summer. But if he can continue to average a double-double and be near the top of the NBA in rebounds and field goal percentage again this season, Sefko opines that the Mavericks will gladly re-sign Jordan next summer at whatever price tag is needed.

There’s more from Dallas:

  • Now that the 2018 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class has been enshrined in Springfield, Joe Nguyen of The Denver Post takes a look at some candidates for election next year. Among the first time candidates is do-it-all forward Shawn Marion, who helped the Mavericks win an NBA Championship in 2011.
  • In an appearance on KRLD-FM, Dirk Nowitzki (per Sportando) presented a glowing endorsement of Doncic, admitting that the Slovenian rookie is better than Dirk was at the same age. “Oh yeah (he’s better). I could shoot a little bit but I never had the court vision … the savviness that he brings to the game… He’s going to be fun to watch especially with bigs like DeAndre (Jordan) and Dwight (Powell) rolling to the rim … He’s going to pick defenses apart and it’s going to be fun to watch.”
  • In another piece for The Dallas Morning News, Sefko profiles big man Salah Mejri and his role on the Mavs this upcoming season. Mejri, 32, signed a one-year contract for the veteran’s minimum this offseason. And even though the addition of Jordan won’t do any favors for Mejri’s playing time, the Tunisian big man will be ready to play when needed, as always.
  • In yet another player profile piece, Sefko opines that backup point guard J.J. Barea may be one of the most underrated Mavericks of all time. Barring injury, Barea will later this season become the seventh player in Mavs history to play in 600 games with the franchise.

Maverick Notes: Summer 2019, Nowitzki, Roster Spots

Heading into the summer, the Mavericks appeared to have one of the worst long-term situations in the league, with ESPN ranking them 22nd in their future rankings. The list is compiled by Bobby Marks and Kevin Pelton as they project how each team will perform over the next three season.

Dallas made one of the biggest leaps in their latest edition of the power rankings, rising to 17th, fueled by the arrival of Luka Doncic and the signing of DeAndre Jordan, a pair of moves that should make them competitive this season. Marks notes that the team is projected to have $55MM in cap space next summer, so the team could ostensibly move even further up the rankings with a big signing in free agency.

Here’s more from Dallas:

  • Dirk Nowitzki plays well with Devin Harris and J.J. Barea, so a move to the second-unit makes sense for the Mavericks, Eddie Sefko of Sports Day opines. Sefko notes that Nowitzki is all but certain to start Game 2 and 81 of the season. Those are the Mavericks’ first and last home games of the season.
  • In the same piece, Sefko notes that the Mavs could elect to keep a roster spot open heading into the season. Dallas could be a candidate for a player that gets unexpectedly waived by a rival team.
  • The Mavericks‘ reserves are excited to get more playing time with Nowitzki this season, Sefko passes along in a separate piece. “I told him, ‘You’re coming buddy. You’re with us.’ I’ll take him,” Barea said of the future Hall-of-Famer. “He’s all about pick and pop and shoot it. He’s working his butt off, too. Hopefully he stays healthy and can come in and help a little bit. The guys know how to play with him.”

Southwest Rumors: Gasol, Nowitzki, Lauvergne, Finney-Smith

Spurs center Pau Gasol hopes to play for Spain in the FIBA World Cup next summer, according to a Sportando report. Gasol told the Spanish website El Dia he’ll wait until after the NBA season to make a final decision whether he’ll play for his home country as it attempts to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. “I am about to turn 39,” Gasol said. “I love playing with the national team and I would like to continue, and qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo and help the team with my presence, if I am physically well my belief and my wish is to be in the World Cup.”

We have more from around the Southwest Division:

  • Dirk Nowitzki scrimmaged with his Mavericks teammates for the first time since undergoing ankle surgery in April, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News reports. Coach Rick Carlisle said Nowitzki should be available for training camp, which opens September 21, Sefko continues. Lottery pick Luka Doncic and J.J. Barea were among the other players in the scrimmage, Sefko adds.
  • Former Spurs big man Joffrey Lauvergne said he would have stayed in San Antonio if he didn’t get an offer to play with Turkey’s Fenerbahce, he told Fenerbahce TV in an interview relayed by Sportando. Lauvergne declined a $1.656MM player option to sign a two-year deal overseas with the anticipation of getting more playing time. “I wanted to come back to Europe and the team that I wanted to play is Fenerbahçe,” he said. “I accepted the offer without thinking but if Fenerbahçe didn’t offer me i would probably stay in Spurs for one more season.”
  • Mavericks swingman Dorian Finney-Smith should find more playing time in the frontcourt rather than the crowded backcourt, Sefko writes in a separate story. The club hopes he can develop into a 3-and-D player and he’ll earn more minutes if his outside shot improves, Sefko continues. It’s a pivotal year for Finney-Smith, who will become a restricted free agent after the season if he receives a qualifying offer or unrestricted if the club declines to do so, Sefko adds.

Southwest Notes: Nowitzki, Casspi, Grunwald

Utilizing Dirk Nowitzki as a sixth man might be the best strategy for the Mavericks during the upcoming season, Eddie Sefko of Dallas Morning News opines. The team seems committed to start rookie guard Luka Doncic, so if Nowitzki also starts, that would thrust Wesley Matthews into a bench role, Sefko notes. Pairing Nowitzki with reserve guard J.J. Barea in pick-and-pop situations might be a more sensible route, Sefko adds.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Omri Casspi‘s offensive skills will provide a different element to the Grizzlies’ rotation than Jarell Martin, the player he essentially replaces, according to Michael Wallace of the team’s website. Casspi, who signed a one-year deal in July, probably won’t play as much as Martin did but Casspi shot 58% from the field and 45.5% from long range for the Warriors last season. His ability to space the floor with his long-range prowess and also cut to the basket will make him an asset, Wallace continues. Martin has more athleticism and defensive versatility than Casspi but never produced as consistently as the Grizzlies had hoped, Wallace adds.
  • Former Raptors GM Glen Grunwald has accepted a consultant’s role with the Grizzlies, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star reports. Grunwald has also held preliminary negotiations with Canada Basketball, the country’s governing body for the sport, concerning its executive director opening, Smith adds. Grunwald left his post as the director of athletics and recreation at Canada’s McMaster University to join the Grizzlies organization.
  • What are the remaining offseason questions for Southwest Division teams? We take a closer look here.

And-Ones: 2019 FAs, MVP Odds, Oldest Vets

An ESPN panel was asked where they think some of the top-projected free agents of 2019 might end up next summer. The results were interesting, with the panel making a prediction for five players: Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson.

As we explored earlier this summer, both Irving and Butler have reportedly expressed interested in playing together, and the panel obviously took that into consideration, predicting both players to suit up for the Knicks next season. However, the Celtics were a close second for Irving.

Interestingly, the Lakers were the second-highest voted selection for both Butler and Thompson, and the first-place selection for Leonard by a wide-margin. Meanwhile, both Thompson and Durant are projected to return to the Warriors.

We have more from around the league:

Nowitzki Unsure If 2018/19 Season Will Be His Last

Dirk Nowitzki will set a new NBA record this fall when he officially enters his 21th season with a single franchise. But even after making history as a Maverick, Nowitzki isn’t ready to assume he’ll call it a career after the 2018/19 campaign. Speaking at a kids’ summer camp event on Wednesday, Nowitzki said he remains unsure whether next season will be his last, as Dwain Price of Mavs.com details.

“I’m going to make that decision (about retirement), I guess, once obviously I see how the season goes,” Nowitzki said.

As the veteran big man points out, he had a very healthy year in 2017/18, appearing in 77 games and remaining productive for the Mavericks. As he enters his age-40 season, there’s no guarantee he’ll continue to be able to stay on the court that often going forward, but if he stays injury-free again, he’ll want to consider all his options in the summer of 2019.

“If next year is going to go sort of the same (in terms of health), then hey, maybe, and we’ll leave the door open and I’m going to play another (season),” Nowitzki said, per Price. “But I want to approach this as if there is no tomorrow and then just hopefully have a great year. I’m going to try to be efficient again as I’ve often tried my entire career. We’ll just go from there, but hopefully it’s going to be a lot more fun than last year.”

The Mavericks’ win totals have slipped from 50 to 42 to 33 to 24 over the last four seasons, but Nowitzki is confident that this year’s roster has the talent necessary to reverse that trend. The longtime Mav called DeAndre Jordan one of the NBA’s most effective two-way centers and said that No. 3 overall pick Luka Doncic has “all the tools” to succeed in the NBA.

“I think we should be a lot better than last year,” Nowitzki said. “That’s not a secret.”

Southwest Rumors: Davis, Jordan, Conley, Hartenstein

Anthony Davis learned that DeMarcus Cousins was joining the Warriors while watching TV and didn’t see it coming, Scott Kushner of the Baton Rouge Advocate relays. Davis’ comments were made during a CBS-TV interview.

The Pelicans‘ superstar big man understood why Cousins decided to take a one-year deal with Golden State after entering free agency with hopes of a max contract offer.

“I was a little shocked. But I know DeMarcus, and I know he made the best decision for him and his career at that time and for his family,” Davis said. “Of course, I definitely would’ve loved for that to keep going. But at that point, I wasn’t sure what was going on with his situation or what was going through his head. It’s a lot, coming from being traded and then feeling like you deserve a max contract, and then you tear your Achilles. It was a tough situation; it’s tough on him.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Mavericks center DeAndre Jordan isn’t expected to show up at the USA Basketball minicamp this week, Dwain Price of Mavs.com tweets. Jordan wasn’t at the camp on Thursday and is likely to remain absent on Friday, Price adds.
  • Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley is participating at the minicamp but will not compete in full scrimmages or contact drills, Michael Wallace of the Grizzlies’ website reports. Conley said his foot and heel are pain-free for the first time in two years after undergoing season-ending surgery in January.
  • Isaiah Hartenstein‘s three-year contract with the Rockets is fully guaranteed next season, has a partial guarantee the second year, and a non-guaranteed third year, Michael Scotto of The Athletic tweets. The 7-footer, a 2017 second-round selection, signed the contract on Wednesday after playing in the G League last season. He posted averages of 10.3 PPG, 8.0 RPG, and 2.3 BPG in four summer league games with Houston earlier this month.
  • Dirk Nowitzki‘s one-year contract with the Mavericks does not contain a no-trade clause because he has automatic veto rights over any trade as a One-Year Bird, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Nowitzki signed the $5MM deal this week.

Mavericks Re-Sign Dirk Nowitzki

JULY 23: The Mavericks have officially re-signed Nowitzki, the team announced today in a press release.

JULY 19: Dirk Nowitzki will accept a one-year deal with the Mavericks worth $5MM, but the contract may not be finalized for a while, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. Charania states that neither side is in a hurry to sign the deal, but the news means Nowitzki, 40, will return for his 21st season in Dallas.

The Mavs declined Nowitzki’s $5MM team option in June, but wound up giving him the same figure, which will use up the last of their cap space. That will set the stage for several other signings, Bobby Marks posts on ESPN Now.

The team will go over the cap to re-sign Yogi Ferrell with his Early Bird rights, then Ryan Broekhoff and Salah Mejri with minimum exceptions. That will give Dallas 14 guaranteed contracts with the $4.4MM mid-level exception still available.

[UPDATE: Yogi Ferrell backs out of deal with Mavs, agrees to sign with Kings]

Nowitzki is the most prolific player in franchise history, making 13 All-Star appearances and ranking sixth on the NBA’s career scoring list. He started 77 games last season, averaging 12.0  points and 5.7 rebounds per night.

After two straight seasons out of the playoffs, Dallas could be back in contention after adding free agent center DeAndre Jordan and trading up to get EuroLeague MVP Luka Doncic in the draft. Team owner Mark Cuban recently suggested that Nowitzki could be persuaded to keep playing beyond the 2018/19 season if the team became competitive again.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southwest Notes: Cousins, Mavs, Anderson, Nowitzki

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry denies that Anthony Davis didn’t want DeMarcus Cousins to return, William Guillory of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Cousins stunned the basketball world by signing a one-year, $5.3MM deal with the Warriors but it had nothing to do with his relationship with New Orleans’ franchise player, according to Gentry.

“Someone said A.D. didn’t want DeMarcus back, and that couldn’t be further from the truth,” the Pelicans’ head coach said. “I don’t know where that came about, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.”

In other news around the Southwest Division:

  • The Mavericks don’t plan on having a full roster heading into training camp, Dwain Price of Mavs.com tweets“Unless something falls in our lap we’ll keep an open roster spot,” owner Mark Cuban told Price.
  • Kyle Anderson‘s defensive metrics were a major reason why the Grizzlies gave the small forward an offer sheet the Spurs didn’t match, according to Michael Wallace of Grizzlies.com. He ranked fourth in steals percentage, sixth in defensive rating and 13th in steals per game and rated as the league’s second-best defending small forward last season behind the Sixers’ Robert Covington. Offensively, Anderson could be used an additional ball handler and initiate half-court sets, Wallace adds.
  • If the Mavericks show significant improvement, Dirk Nowitzki could play beyond next season, Cuban said in a Sirius XM radio interview that was relayed by the Dallas Morning News. The Mavs will re-sign Nowitzki, who is currently a free agent, once they finish their offseason moves after turning down their team option.”I’d say it’s under 50 percent right now (he’ll retire after next season) but if he’s playing 77 games and we’re getting better, and we’re starting to win games? You know what a competitor he is — he’s going to want to come back.”