Dirk Nowitzki will stay with the Dallas Mavericks as he continues to prove that his words mean everything.
Nowitzki and the Mavs agreed Tuesday on a two-year, $40 million contract that will keep the 7-foot superstar forward in Dallas for his 19th and 20th NBA seasons, a source said.
The second year of the contract is a player’s option and was put in place in case Nowitzki wants to retire after the upcoming season or opt out next summer when the NBA salary cap increases exponentially again.
If Nowitzki plays out the contract, he will join Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers) and possibly Tim Duncan — who reportedly is mulling retirement with the San Antonio Spurs after 19 seasons — as the only players in NBA history to spend at least 20 seasons with the same franchise.
$31M What Dirk Nowitzki could have made in salary for 2016-17 if he had sought a max contract. Nowitzki opted out of an $8.7 million final year and has agreed to a two-year, $40 million deal.
While Mavs fans were getting nervous last month when Nowitzki opted out of the final year of his contract, he said all along that he wouldn’t leave the only franchise he’s ever played for unless it decided to go into a rebuilding plan.
As late as Monday, when Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City via free agency to join a star-studded cast in Golden State, some fans had visions of Nowitzki joining the Warriors in order to get another championship ring before he retires.
But once Dallas agreed to free-agent contracts with Harrison Barnes, Deron Williams, Seth Curry and Dwight Powell and agreed to acquire center Andrew Bogut in a trade with Golden State, Nowitzki knew the Mavs were at least trying to be competitive and not planning to start all over again.
Barnes’ deal is four years for $94.4 million. Curry’s deal is for a two-year, $6 million cap-room exception. Bogut’s $11 million salary comes off the Mavs’ books next summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Nowitzki, 38, and all players with new contracts can sign their new deal Thursday when the NBA moratorium is lifted.
And while remaining relevant this coming season, the Mavs will still have enough money to be a major player next summer when players such as Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Steven Adams, Blake Griffin and Giannis Antetokounmpo are among those who will be free agents.
1,929 Points Dirk Nowitzki needs in the two years of his expected new contract to pass Wilt Chamberlain’s 31,419 for fifth all time in NBA history. Nowitzki has averaged 22.0 points a game in 18 seasons; Chamberlain averaged 30.1 points a game for 15 seasons.
The agreement by Nowitzki, although expected, is a relief for the Mavs, who went into the off-season not taking for granted that the league’s No. 6 all-time leading scorer (and 1,929 points away from passing Wilt Chamberlain’s 31,419 for fifth) would automatically return to Dallas. The Mavs were leery that their recent poor playoff performances had worn on Nowitzki and would convince him to contemplate chasing titles elsewhere.
Since winning the NBA title in 2011, the Mavs haven’t gotten out of the first round of the playoffs, losing in five games to Oklahoma last season. The Mavs are 5-16 in the postseason during that period, and didn’t even make the playoffs after posting a 41-41 record during the 2012-13 season.
Apparently, Nowitzki believes the roster the Mavs have assembled can compete with the best in the NBA after he opted out of a contract that would have paid him $8.7 million during the 2016-17 season. And after leading the Mavs in scoring at 18.3 points a game (1,372 points in 75 games).
The Mavs can field a roster that has Nowitzki and Barnes at forwards, Wesley Matthews and Williams in the backcourt and Bogut at center. The bench would include centers Salah Mejri, JaVale McGee and rookie A.J. Hammons, forwards Justin Anderson, Jeremy Evans and Powell, and guards J.J. Barea, Devin Harris and Curry.
That gives the Mavs 14 players and leaves room for one more to reach the NBA maximum of 15. And the Mavs still have three of their own free agents — David Lee, Raymond Felton and Charlie Villanueva — who are unsigned.
But the biggest free agent on their roster the Mavs wanted to secure was Nowitzki. Nowitzki, 38, is sixth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with 29,491 points and is .
How Mavericks’ roster shapes up
Pending the official signings and the trade for Andrew Bogut — all of which can begin taking shape Thursday —here’s the depth chart so far for the Mavs heading into the 2016-17 season:
A. J. Hammon