Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki and Houston Rockets centre Dwight Howard will become NBA free agents on July 1 after opting out of contracts on Tuesday.

German star Nowitzki, who turned 38 on Sunday, had a $8.7 million offer for next season to stay with the Mavericks, with whom he won the NBA title in 2011.

Howard informed the Rockets he will decline a $23.2 million player option. The 30-year-old has been nagged with back problems in recent years.


Nowitzki has spent his entire 18-year career with the Mavericks and might yet re-sign with Dallas, although NBA Finals runner-up Golden State is among those who might be interested in the 13-time All-Star.

Nowitzki, a former NBA and NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, ranks sixth on the league’s all-time scoring list with 29 491 career points and could pass Wilt Chamberlain for fifth next season.

The Rockets have hired Mike D’Antoni as their new coach and Howard was not a fan of D’Antoni’s system when he played under the coach for one season with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Howard averaged 13.7 points last season, his lowest total since his rookie campaign with Orlando in 2004-05, and 11.8 rebounds a game. He has career averages of 17.8 points and 12.7 rebounds in 12 seasons with Orlando, Los Angeles and Houston.

The New York Knicks will have the money to be a player in free agency deals after forwards Arron Afflalo and Derrick Williams said they would opt out of their contracts, giving New York more than $30 million in cap space.



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