Mavericks need young star to support Dirk

DALLAS -- If the Dallas Mavericks have designs on winning another NBA championship in the foreseeable future, they need to hurry up and pair Dirk Nowitzki with another young superstar.

Nowitzki, who turns 34 on June 19, might be able to play at a prime-time superstar level for another three or four years. With such a small window to operate under, the Mavericks will have to move fast in an effort to supply Nowitzki the assistance he needs to get this franchise back on the NBA mountaintop.

"I think you saw during the course of the playoffs that he was fighting tooth and nail, and he needs help," general manager Donnie Nelson said. "He needs help and we plan to give it to him."

Deron Williams, who turns 28 on June 26, is the player the Mavericks would love to pair with Nowitzki. The point guard of the team that soon will be known as the Brooklyn Nets becomes a free agent on July 1 and previously has noted that he wouldn't mind playing for Dallas.

Williams could be coming home; he was a high school star at The Colony.

But if the Mavericks can't get Williams, owner Mark Cuban and Nelson might maintain their salary-cap space and wait until the summer of 2013 when Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard is due to become a free agent.

"You can't have enough great players, simple as that," coach Rick Carlisle said. "This franchise has had a lot of them over the years and we've all been spoiled to a great degree.

"When I say great players I'm talking about [Jason] Kidd, [Jason] Terry, [Shawn] Marion. And we've had four guys over the last three years that are All-Star caliber guys, all big-time crunch-time performers and all guys that put winning above everything else, so what else can you ask for?"

When asked if he needs a young big-time co-star to help him navigate through the rugged NBA season, Nowitzki was at first apprehensive.

"Hey, I mean, if that's the case, I'd love to hand over the keys," Nowitzki said. "We'll have to wait and see what happens.

"I still think I can play some great basketball and can still contribute to a good team. But like I said, ... we'll see what happens this summer and next summer."

Either way, the Mavericks must move fast. The clock is quickly ticking on Nowitzki's brilliant career.

"The great thing about Dirk is he's a greater person than he is a player and he's made it clear, not only with his words but from his actions, that he will take any role that is right for this franchise to proceed forward and continue to grow," Carlisle said. "I think it's one of the things that is exciting is he was able to get back to his form of the playoffs last year after going through some of the physical challenges that he had.

"The hope is that he'll continue to want to play for a long time. I know Mark and Donnie have taken very personally the challenge of getting more high-level players in here, and we're going to beat the bushes to do it."

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760

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