Nowitzki eager to help the Mavericks with free agency

Posted Monday, Jun. 10, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Dirk Nowitzki is well prepared and eager to become the most celebrated recruiter to ever don a Dallas Mavericks uniform.

Now headed into the twilight of his stellar 15-year career, Nowitzki wants to offer owner Mark Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson all the assistance he can as the Mavericks attempt to return to championship status. Thus, Nowitzki has already cut short his annual trip home to Germany — he’ll leave this week — in an effort to be available during the franchise’s most important off-season in quite some time.

“Usually I’m home [in Germany] for a good two or three months, and I’m there and spend some time with my family. But this year it’s just going to be a couple of weeks, and the rest of the summer, I’ll be here,” Nowitzki said Monday afternoon. “I’ll be here if they need me, if they want me to go to the draft, which I’ve been saying. I think Cubes and Donnie know that if they need me to fly anywhere on a short trip I’m more than happy to go to throw out a sales pitch.”

The Mavericks, who missed the playoffs this season for the first time since 2000, have their sights set on grabbing either Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard or Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul — or both — when that dynamic duo becomes eligible for free agency on July 1. While Nowitzki hasn’t developed a friendship with either player, he explained that it’s crucial for the Mavericks to get another marquee player in Dallas as soon as possible.

“I think you’ve got to keep yourself honest and go for it,” Nowitzki said before participating in the Mavs’ Hoop Camp at the T. Boone Pickens YMCA. “You never know what can happen — what’s in Dwight’s or Chris’ head. I have no idea; I don’t know either one of them really well, but we at least would love to get a meeting face-to-face. I’m sure Donnie and Cubes are going to make that happen, hopefully, on July 1.”

Nowitzki has seen the franchise go from the pits of the NBA to the mountaintop, capped by the Mavericks winning the 2011 NBA title.

“If we do get a meeting, yeah, I’d love to go and sit in and share my experiences over the last 15 years in this city with Cuban and Donnie running the show, and obviously what I feel like is one of the best coaches in the league [in Rick Carlisle],” Nowitzki said. “I think we’ve got some stuff that should be attractive to free agents, but we’ll just have to wait and see. Once you make the sales pitch, it’s kind of all in their hands and what they feel like is best for their situation and for their families.”

What Nowitzki doesn’t want to occur is what happened last year when the Mavericks’ Plan A free agent, point guard Deron Williams, decided to re-sign with the Brooklyn Nets. That left the Mavericks scrambling with an ill-fated Plan B that had them signing a slew of players to one-year contracts and led to Dallas missing the playoffs with a 41-41 record.

“We’d love not to even go to Plan B, but I think we’ve got to be ready this year for a Plan B,” Nowitzki said. “I said it ever since this season was over: I don’t think our plan this year can be signing another eight or nine one-year deals. We tried that — it was OK; it was a decent experience. I think that experience has played out.”

Nowitzki, whose wife is expected to give birth to the couple’s first child in a little over a month, will turn 35 on June 19. He’s already said he will take less money when his contract expires on July 1, 2014 if it’ll help the Mavericks land Howard, Paul or other big-name free agents.

“I think now we’ve got to make some things happen,” Nowitzki said. “I think Cubes obviously said it in numerous interviews after the season that he’s committed to obviously making this franchise a winning franchise again and a playoff franchise, so saying all that, if we don’t get two of the big boys, we’ve got to do something.

“There’s other free agents out there that are interesting to good — maybe not max players. If you have cap room, I think you can turn a franchise around pretty quick. If you have cap room, you can trade down. There are a lot of options, and I’m excited to go through all of them.”

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @dwainprice

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