Dirk playing past 40? Mavs president thinks so
JUL 17, 2014 12:30p ET
LAS VEGAS -- Dirk Nowitzki shocked a lot of folks by agreeing to a three-year contract with the Dallas Mavericks for a modest (by NBA superstar standards) $25 million. Don't be surprised if this isn't his last deal.
By becoming the fourth highest-paid Maverick for the upcoming season, Nowitzki gave Mark Cuban the necessary salary wiggle room to land restricted free agent Chandler Parsons. Mavericks president Donnie Nelson hopes to reward Nowitzki's "sacrifice" in 2017 with what should be a farewell contract.
"He understood that we needed flexibility in order to get the team better," Nelson said from NBA Summer League. "He's part of the tapestry of the city of Dallas. He's really a made man in a lot respects if you think about all the superstars that have come through in all the sports, in terms of basketball it doesn't get any better than Dirk.
"He just made a decision to end his career there. Hopefully we can tag another contract on to that. If he drinks from the same water cooler as Jason Kidd, he'll play until he's 42."
Kidd retired at 40 before going into coach. Nowitzki's good buddy Steve Nash is 40 going into this season. A number of big men played into their fifth decade, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Robert Parish, Dikembe Mutombo and Kevin Willis.
Nowitzki will be 39 at the conclusion of his latest contract. Considering the level he played at last season and his commitment to staying fit, he'll be a bargain for the next three years as the Mavericks attempt to squeeze out one more title before the Tall Baller from the G hangs up his Nikes.
Nowitzki's role in that championship push extends beyond the court, as this extension proves. He went from making an average of $20 million per season on his last four-year contract to a salary of $7.97 million this season. Parsons, freshly-reacquired Tyson Chandler and Monta Ellis will each earn more than Nowitzki in 2014-15.
"Obviously that just shows what a team guy he is to take a cut like that for Mark and Donnie to have flexibility to go out and get a guy like me and try to make the Mavericks the best possible team, and to compete for championships," Parsons said. "Obviously he knows he could have made more than that and he deserves more than that, but he's so unselfish and will do anything for the team, and that's part of the reason why I respect him so much."
For some added perspective, Kobe Bryant will pull down $25 million in 2015-16 alone. Bryant is two months younger than Nowitzki.
"It's just the kind of human being he is," Nelson said of Nowitzki. "He's all about winning. He's all about championships. He's one of the most selfless superstars that have ever played in the NBA and he's willing to do whatever it takes to bring another parade to Dallas."
The front office was in constant communication with Nowitzki regarding Parsons and the rest of the offseason moves. The Mavericks brought back championship running mate Chandler, and recently signed veterans Richard Jefferson and Rashard Lewis to one-year contracts.
Keeping Nowitzki in the loop and getting his input on personnel is just sound business.
"It's always been that way," Nelson said. "Dirk is part of the Mavs family, and he and Mark have had a special, unique, honest and forthcoming relationship since Mark has owned the team. He's probably the biggest reason we've had 15 years of great chemistry in the locker room.
"We haven't been without our speed bumps, but for the most part we've had a really good team atmosphere and it starts from the top with Dirk in the locker room, Mark from a franchise perspective and you have the best coach in the game in Rick Carlisle."
Nelson is excited about the possibilities for next year. The Mavericks could use another shooter in the backcourt, such as free agent Mo Williams, but only have the $2.7 million exception along with minimum contracts to spend. Williams has bigger offers on the table.
"We've got fairly good depth and experience at all the different positions," Nelson said. "Last time Tyson and Dirk shared a locker room we had a pretty special run. With Chandler Parsons it gives us not only a guy that is multi-dimensional, a small forward that can pass and shoot and knows what to do without the ball and a team player, but he that's a nice front line. You've got 6-9 or 6-10 at the 3, you've got 7-foot and then you've got our modern-day Bill Russell at the 5.
"We're excited about that front line, and then you take that mix and you put a guy like Monta Ellis and add the backcourt that we have, which is a really nice 1-2 punch, and the veteran pieces that we've fortunately been able to add, we really like our team and we like our chances."
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