Saturday, May 1, 2010

Nowitzki's last game with the Mavericks?

SAN ANTONIO – Dirk Nowitzki’s return to the Dallas Mavericks is no slam dunk. He could join the superstar-loaded free agency class this summer.

Nowitzki had never left much doubt that he’d stay in Dallas until the Mavericks’ season ended Thursday night with a Game 6 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. He can opt out of his contract this summer, which he indicated he would consider after the Mavericks exited in the first round for the third time in four seasons.

I wanted to obviously have a long playoff run and go for my dream again,” said Nowitzki, who would make $21.5 million next season if he doesn’t opt out of his contract. “Now it’s obviously too shocking and too disappointing. I haven’t really thought about anything about my future yet. I guess I’ve got some time now to think about some stuff and think about my options. 

“We’ll just have to wait and see. Like I said, everything is too fresh now. I’ve got some time to think about some stuff now.”

Owner Mark Cuban declined to answer questions via e-mail about Nowitzki's comments.

Nowitzki has said on several occasions that winning a championship wouldn’t be as meaningful if he did it with a team other than the Mavericks. He’s played his entire 12-season career in Dallas, serving as the cornerstone of a franchise that is one of only four in NBA history to have 10 consecutive 50-win seasons. However, the Mavericks are the only franchise in that group that didn’t win multiple championships.

The Mavericks blew a golden opportunity to win a title in 2006, when they failed to win another game after jumping out to a 2-0 lead over the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. Since then, the Mavericks’ only playoff series win came in the first round against the injury-ravaged Spurs last season.

As much as I’m disappointed for the team and for Mark [Cuban] and for myself, I’m even more disappointed for Dirk, because a lot of this was about trying to get him to a point where he could realize the dream,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “The window is still open, but this is a tough blow.”

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