DALLAS -- With NBA training camps set to start today, Dirk Nowitzki knows the world champion Dallas Mavericks are on the verge of going through a makeover.
He just hopes it's not the type of makeover that would hamper the Mavericks' chances of repeating as NBA champs.
Nowitzki, 33, discussed several issues on the eve of training camp.
How has this past summer been different for you than other summers? There's this satisfaction that comes with winning it. Every summer would end in the playoffs with a loss, and you're disappointed and you're not happy and it takes a couple of months to get over it and get fired up again for a new try. And this year we reached our goal, we reached our dream. From that point, it was a great summer.
How important is it for the Mavericks to bring back center Tyson Chandler and the team's other free agents? As a player, you've won it once and we'd obviously love to have the same crew back and defend our title that way. But we understand it's a business, so we're just going to have to wait and see what happens.
Can the Mavericks afford to lose a defensive player of Chandler's caliber? We obviously would hate to see him go somewhere else with a different uniform on. He was a huge part of us winning. I would be really sad if he goes somewhere else. I think I've been in this business for a long time now and I understand losing Steve [Nash], and losing Mike [Finley] in consecutive years back in the day. This is all about business.
Have you talked to owner Mark Cuban and general manager Donnie Nelson about bringing all the players back? The last time I heard [from them] was at the parade [in June] when we all said we'd love to come back and we'd love to keep the same crew. We had great chemistry, and everybody fought for each other. We just have to wait and see what the decision is. It's a hard one to make. It's not a decision I want to be a part of. Donnie and Mark have to look out for what's best for this franchise and for the future.
What about the prospect of losing J.J. Barea, who played a major role in the team's championship drive? If he gets some good offers, it's going to be tough for us to keep him. He's been great for us. He's instant offense off the bench. I would hate to see him go. He's been a friend off the floor. It's not a dream world. In a dream world, we would keep everybody and bring in Dwight [Howard] and CP [Chris Paul] and Deron [Williams] next summer. That's just not how it works in this business.
Didn't you take less money -- $16 million less -- when you signed your last contract for days like this to help the Mavericks sign quality free agents? I guess I didn't take less enough. I still got a decent deal out of it. Maybe it wasn't enough cutbacks.
How was this lockout different from the one that occurred during your rookie season in 1998-99 when 32 games were lost? My rookie year was different. I didn't even have a contract yet because the lockout started after I'd just got drafted. So I was still able to play over in Europe and competed in the first division and stayed in shape. All I know is the season was almost canceled, and from one day to the next they told me the season's starting and come on over. So that was a little weird. This year I was more and more involved a little bit. The Internet these days, with Twitter, you find out everything in about 30 seconds later when something goes down, so I kept informed that way.
Do people talk to you differently after winning the NBA title? I know in Germany people were just so happy for me. It was amazing to see how many people were happy for me and for us. They saw how hard we tried for so long, and the disappointment in '06 and the best record in '07 and all those disappointments. And finally you work so long and you reach your goals.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760