Dallas Mavericks

Nowitzki says he plans to play a few more years

Although he’ll turn 36 on June 19, Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t see his career winding to a close any time soon.

The Dallas Mavericks’ superstar forward admits he may still be playing in the NBA after he turns 40 years old.

“I’m a free agent this summer, and I’ll probably sign on for two or three years,” Nowitzki said. “And then I can sign a bunch of one-year deals, I guess, after that, as long as I want and as long as it feels good.”

Nowitzki believes the stress of his job isn’t as burdensome as it is for the guards who run around the court setting up the offense and chase defenders from baseline to baseline. Nowitzki’s game doesn’t lend itself to that type of physical exertion, which is why he may play another four or five seasons — major health issues notwithstanding.

“Standing in the corner shooting a 3-ball will never be a problem,” said Nowitzki, who is being paid $22.7 million this season. “It’s running up and down; it’s competing on the boards, the showing on the pick-and-rolls where you’ve got to run out there with the small guys — I think that’s the problem.

“And the preparation obviously you have to do every summer. Once I get tired of that, I think it’ll be over pretty quick because you’ve got to put in a lot of work at this age to still perform on a high level.”

While the Mavs (34-23) prepare to face the New York Knicks (21-35) at 6:30 Monday night at Madison Square Garden, they do so knowing Nowitzki is playing his best basketball since undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Oct. 19, 2012. The 16-year veteran leads the Mavs with 21.8 points per game and is shooting 49.5 percent from the field, 41.3 percent form 3-point range and 91.4 percent from the free-throw line.

Nowitzki has a chance to join Larry Bird (1986-87 and 1987-88) and Steve Nash (2005-06, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10) as the only players in NBA history to record multiple seasons of shooting at least 50 percent from the floor, 40 percent on 3-pointers and 90 percent on free throws.

Nowitzki, who performed the feat during the 2006-07 season when he was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, acknowledged that basketball is fun for him again now that he’s healthy and poised to get the Mavs into the playoffs following a one-year absence from the postseason.

“Last year was tough for me with the knee surgery,” Nowitzki said. “I missed [29] games and then it took me over a month to kind of get going. By that time, it was already after the All-Star break, and then I started playing decent ball again. But it was just too late to make a playoff push.”

The Mavs are just delighted that after this season, they’re going to have Nowitzki around for quite some time.

“He’s quiet but yet he gets the job done,” guard Devin Harris said. “That’s been the hallmark of his career. He doesn’t make a lot of noise. But he’s been solid for us all year long, and hopefully he can keep it going.”

At least for a few more years.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram