Dirk won’t be drama king in free agency

By Jeff Caplan, NBA.com


Dirk Nowitzki will be a free agent on July 1, but don’t expect him to leave the Mavs. (NBAE via Getty Images)

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Dirk Nowitzki will enter free agency next week with all the drama of a palm tree twitching in a South Beach summer breeze.

Hyperventilating Miami Heat fans can only dream of such simplicity.

“We’ll get together pretty quick,” Nowitzki said recently of his free agency plans during a radio appearance on the Dallas Mavericks’ flagship station, 103.3 FM. “[Mark] Cuban knows I don’t want to go anywhere, and he doesn’t want me to go anywhere. We’re guessing that’s going to be over pretty quick and we can focus on making this franchise even better.”

Nowitzki, 36, will become a free agent for the second time in his career on July 1, just as LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony will, and potentially Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Nowitzki could chase a second title elsewhere, if he wanted to, with contenders lining up to add the deadliest 7-foot perimeter shooter to ever play the game.

But that’s not Nowitzki’s thing. He wants to stay in Dallas despite celebrating just three playoff wins since beating the Heat for the 2011 championship, to try to re-create the magic with the only franchise he’s ever known. Owner Mark Cuban is a lucky man. He doesn’t have to resort to challenges of manhood — Stay, “if you’ve got the guts” — like Heat president Pat Riley did last week. Or have to guess the thoughts, and whose voices, might be floating through the mind of his superstar. Or to convince Nowitzki to take less money than he could — or should — demand to stay.

Nowitzki, through a good chuckle, has already said he won’t be going the extension route of Kobe Bryant.

The Mavs’ leader in just about every meaningful statistical category in franchise history, and now No. 10 on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, has never employed a traditional agent. He doesn’t play games. He says what he means and means what he says. And come July 2 or 3 or thereabouts, Nowitzki will have likely signed a contract for two or three more seasons at $10 million to $12 million per, a deal similar to the one another one-team guy, Tim Duncan, will complete after next season.

It is, however, interesting to ponder the hypothetical “what if,” as in what if Nowitzki and the Mavs had not won the 2011 championship, and the clock was ticking down? Would he be so steadfast about a return to a team with a turnstile roster over the last three seasons and hasn’t finished higher than the No. 7 seed? That hasn’t made it out of the first round six times in the past eight seasons? That is again a long shot this summer to land a star free agent to ease Nowitzki’s burden?

Rewind to the spring of 2010 and to a decidedly dejected Nowitzki following the No. 2-seed Mavs’ first-round loss to the No. 7-seed San Antonio Spurs. It came after a 55-win season that included the blockbuster trade to acquire aging All-Star point guard Jason Kidd. Nowitzki held the option to opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent. He was turning 32 years old, still in the wheelhouse of his prime.

It was the third first-round-and-out in the four seasons since Nowitzki led the Mavs to the painfully unforgettable 2006 Finals against Miami. The immediate mood was glum; the future murky. And for the first time, Nowitzki, who even back then rarely drifted from his Dallas-only mantra, seemed to suggest that looking around might be his best option.

“I don’t know, this is all pretty fresh. I just have to keep my options open at this point, see what’s going on,” Nowitzki said the next day during the team’s exit interviews. “I have to get over this disappointment for a while. I’ll probably drown my sorrows for a bit and then I’ll start thinking about stuff like that in a week or two. As of now, I just want to keep my options, see what happens.”

Those early pangs quickly subsided and soon Nowitzki was back to his usual Dallas-or-bust refrain. He ultimately opted out to become a free agent, and by July 5 he had inked his name to a new contract, even agreeing to a hometown discount by leaving $16 million on the table for Cuban to use elsewhere to fortify the club. A summer trade brought in oft-injured center Tyson Chandler, whose defensive tenacity and overt leadership greatly empowered Nowitzki’s remarkable postseason run to a career-satisfying first title.

And a much easier decision today. So move along, nothing to see here.

The Mavs finished in the eighth seed last season, but won 49 games in the competitive Western Conference, just two games back of sixth-seed Golden State. The roster is far more stable than any of the past three entering the offseason and Dallas is loaded with cap space, hopeful of improving by landing a free agent such as Luol Deng or Pau Gasol, if not a LeBron or a ‘Melo. With a ring on his finger, that’s good enough for Dirk.

Never a drama king, he’ll be happy to leave the July fireworks to LeBron and those other guys.


  1. ace player ako says:

    if lebron stayed in cleveland, he will not be a champion..thats a fact!

  2. TTKIN says:

    They have Chandler back. If they could get Deng, that would be a good starting 5. If they could get a decent PG itd be a great starting 5


    Stop trying to get superstars and go after guys who play the right way. Isnt that how they won in 2011?

  3. Caloy ski says:

    Now with CHANDLER back, Dallas will be able to attract a number of Quality Free Agents

  4. Anderson Adam says:

    Dirk and Tim (duncan) are guys in different universe, they’re superstar without bad ego, only ego to win the ring with the team they love.

    anyway, hope mavs can land luol, and might as well trade felton + some benches to get PG like dragic or maybe darren collison.

  5. g says:

    Let’s get Dirk to the spurs !!!

  6. Hunter says:

    Im stoked we got Tyson back!! So excited, the work is not done yet. GO MAVS!

  7. Patrick says:

    Get pau gasol and another free agent!

  8. Patrick says:

    Love to see dirk in dallas uniform nxt season!

  9. unknown says:

    If Dallas can get Deng and a more stable pg than Felton, a starting 5 of chandler, dirk, deng, Ellis & said pg with Marion, Vince, Wright and harris off the bench will make some noise. They might even get out of the first round of the playoffs

    • The Truth says:

      That type of starting lineup and bench, with your coach Carlisle, can win the Championship. Like, for real. Obviously, they have to be healthy and be peaking at the right time, but I have no doubts that lineup could win the Chip.

  10. Kimmy says:

    The Mavs love Dirk and Dirk loves the Mavs. But unless they get really creative in free agency.They will remain an 8th or 7th seeded team in the west. Sorry.

    • Marjun says:

      That’s saying more on how tough and competitive it is in the West. Put the Mavs (or any other western playoff team) in the East, and they could easily be 3rd seed or more.

  11. Dama says:

    Because Dirk is Dirk . He didn’t become a superstar because of media hype, unlike someone who became famous by publicity and branded “King’ by the media, who shamefully left his old team to play with other superstars to desperately win a ring. Now, his media friends like Sekou Smith are doing damage control to defend his decision to opt out of his contract citing old excuses as not getting enough support from his team. Let’s face it, Dirk doesn’t have superstars to fall back on, he patiently waits for his team to build and rebuild around him. Lebron’s already got two, superstars, but they’re still not enough. And that shows his greatness? I’d rather put Dirk as one of my all time best because he painstakingly brought his team to a championship level and nailed it from scratch. He didn’t bolt his team to take the easy way out. And that is greatness. Let me guess, Lebron fans will call me a hater for this, it’s their only refuge.

    • Daniel says:

      Well said! You bloom where you are planted. It took Jordan time for his team to come together. It wasn’t problem free but he never ran away because it didn’t work on his time table. Just look at the example the Spurs made of the Heat during the finals. I mean my gosh coach & player cohesiveness is the Spur’s bread and butter. As a Mavs fan I’m frustratingly jealous of the Spur’s success, but they do it the right way. If LeBron leaves again, I don’t think he will, but if he does it will most certainly hurt his legacy. Patience is a virtue. Even if you are, currently, the greatest player in the game.

    • ads says:

      Um… what the hell are you doing talkin bout lebron in a mavs article… yeah you are a hater not because im a heat fan and not because its my refuge. Because the FACT that your rambling about someone that isn’t even supposed to be mentioned in the 1st place and that makes you a hater. Dude… go post else where this is MAVS go cry to your heat articles.

      • asdf says:

        Is there ever a article in here with a comment that doesnt mention kobe or lebron?

        I agree with you tho typical hater comments.

    • Because Dirk is Dirk??? Umm… no I don’t think so buddy!!! It’s because Dirk wasn’t drafted out of high school. It’s because Dirk hasn’t won 4 MVP’s. It’s because Dirk isn’t being considered to be one of the GOAT’s. The list goes on and on and on!!! If you think Lebron is a superstar because of the media hype and not his talent you simply do NOT deserve to even post here! lol! He was named “King James” by his teammates back in Cleveland due to the fact that Cavaliers is a synonym for Knights and Knights protect their leader , “The King”. Why is there shame on leaving a team (whom he didn’t owe anything) to win a championship??? Is there a rule or something that says that in order for you to be great, you have to stay with the same team your whole career, not play along superstars and try to win it that way??? Unlike Dirk, Lebron isn’t complacent. He wants to win as many championships as he can. I’m pretty sure Dirk doesn’t have the guts to throw away the kind of money Lebron did!!!

      Bill Russell’s Celtics had superstars, Wilt’s 76ers and Lakers had superstars, Magic’s Lakers had superstars, Bird’s Celtics had superstars, Jordan’s Bulls had superstars, and 2008 Celtics had superstars, Spurs had superstars AND NO ONE… HAS SAID A THING about it!!!! Lebron clearly did not get the help in Cleveland for 7 years and the same thing happened on this year’s finals.

      Sure, Dirk is great!!! There is no denying it! Best 7 foot pure shooter ever and Future Hall of Famer!!! A beast!!! But greater than Lebron when he finishes his career… sorry to disappoint you but, NEVER! lol!

      P.S. I won’t call you a hater, but how’s that for a refuge???

  12. Whom says:

    Good, no drama. If only other players could do the same. You’re going to opt out, say you are. You’re looking at this team or that, make that clear. I’m not saying completely disclose everything, but this “hush, hush” attitude among players (likely sparked by their agents, etc.) does affect a lot of anxious fans out there who just want an end to the speculation, even if it means the player is leaving.

    Orlando Magic fan

  13. Starsleeper says:

    Win one for Vince!