Dirk Nowitzki is the face of the Dallas Mavericks franchise, and he’ll likely finish his career in Dallas after ESPN’s Marc Stein reported Friday that Nowitzki and the Mavericks have finalized a two-year, $50 million deal.
Stein also provided more details on the structure of the deal and the status of the second-year of the contract:
The new pact, sources say, calls for Nowitzki to earn $25 million in each of the next two seasons, though he has said repeatedly that he will make a decision about playing beyond 2016-17 after gauging how he feels at season’s end.
The second year of the contract, sources say, is fully guaranteed for $5 million of the $25 million at the Mavericks’ option, though any decision about Nowitzki’s playing future is expected to be made in conjunction with owner Mark Cuban, given the longstanding and close bond shared between the two.
This comes after Nowitzki announced his decision to opt out of the final season of his previous three-year contract with the Mavericks during an appearance on 1310 The Ticket in Dallas on May 2 (via MacMahon).
At the time, MacMahon said Nowitzki “has no intention of leaving the team,” which seemed to be the case given the forward’s comments: “We had one more year on the contract, but I think this is the right thing to do. We’re going to sit with [owner] Mark [Cuban] and [general manager] Donnie [Nelson] obviously over the next few weeks and figure out how to improve this franchise again.”
Nowitzki—who would have earned $8.7 million on the last season of his deal—also lamented the fact the Mavericks have not advanced past the first round of the Western Conference playoffs since they won the title in 2010-11. He said after opting out, “So this is just one move that hopefully starts a chain reaction for us to get better again, to compete really at a high level. We’ll see how it goes.”
MacMahon suggested Nowitzki could have taken a smaller salary with his new deal so Dallas had more flexibility to add impact free agents. Now that the forward has done that, it will be up to the front office to surround him with more talent after another disappointing first-round exit.
It wouldn’t have felt right to see Nowitzki suit up for another team, and Mavericks fans no longer have to worry about that possibility.
While the Milwaukee Bucks drafted him in the first round in 1998 at No. 9, they traded him to Dallas, where he has played his entire career. He has become the face of the franchise and synonymous with the team’s recent success as it reached the postseason every year since the 1999-2000 campaign except in 2012-13. It also played in two NBA Finals in that stretch, beating the Miami Heat in one.
He was the 2006-07 NBA MVP, a 13-time All-Star and the NBA Finals MVP when the Mavericks beat LeBron James and the Heat in the 2010-11 season after he averaged 26 points and 9.7 rebounds per game in the series. He is also a 12-time member of an All-NBA team, including four appearances on the first team.
Nowitzki re-signed with Dallas as the sixth-leading scorer on the NBA’s all-time regular-season list behind greats in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.
Nowitzki has averaged at least 17 points a night every season of his career except his rookie year and is one of the best and most consistent scorers the league has ever seen.
The Mavericks understand not to expect the type of Hall of Fame production in 2016-17 he was responsible for in his prime, but he is still a dangerous scorer who can stretch the defense from three-point range, post up on the block and connect on his vintage fadeaway mid-range jumpers.
That versatile offensive skill set helped him average 18.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in 2015-16 as he led Dallas into the postseason.
Nowitzki is no longer the franchise-altering superstar he once was, but Dallas maintained continuity by bringing back its on-court leader. He will bring the same veteran leadership and ability to score in the critical moments he always has as he ideally helps some of the younger players develop as well.
If the Mavericks add a talented piece or two around the legendary forward, he will see the benefits of his new deal on the floor as his team challenges the elites of the Western Conference in 2016-17.