Dirk Nowitzki may have made an unusual concession about the Dallas Mavericks’ future on Friday.
ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that Nowitzki and the Mavericks came to an agreement on a two-year deal for $50 million, up $10 million from their reported agreement earlier in July.
It’s a big pay day for Nowitzki, which is a departure from what he’s been doing.
In 2014, Nowitzki took a steep discount for the Mavs, signing a three-year, $25 million deal to give them more financial flexibility. At the time, Nowitzki explained:
“I wanted to be on a good team. I wanted to compete my last couple of years at the highest level. Ever since after the championship, we had a couple of rough years. We missed the playoffs one year, were the eighth seed twice I think, so that was really the main decision.”
Now, however, after opting out this summer, it seems Nowitzki has perhaps soured on the idea of taking less to give the Mavs a better shot in free agency. In multiple years, the Mavs have missed out on the top free agents, from Chris Paul and Dwight Howard to the DeAndre Jordan fiasco last year. This summer, the Mavs were reportedly in contention for big man Hassan Whiteside, who ultimately re-signed in Miami, and point guard Mike Conley, who ultimately re-signed in Memphis.
The Mavericks didn’t completely strike out; they signed Harrison Barnes to a four-year, max contract and nabbed Andrew Bogut in a trade. Neither move, however, vaults them from borderline playoff team to championship contender.
Stein notes that the second year of Nowitzki’s contract is a team option. The Mavs and Nowitzki will reportedly gauge his interest in playing in 2017-18 after this upcoming season is completed. While $5 million of the $25 million he could make next summer is guaranteed, the Mavs can ultimately decide whether to pick up his option. If they felt that they could land a big-name free agent next summer, they could theoretically not pick up Nowitzki’s option, go after a free agent, then re-negotiate a new deal with Nowitzki.
In the meantime, however, it seems Dirk, who only has a few years left in the NBA, is taking his money now. It seems to signal a realisation that he may not get back to the Finals with this Mavs team.
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