Dirk Nowitzki’s plan was to play two more years to hit 20 NBA seasons and then retire. Turns out that timeline was a bit optimistic.
Dirk is 38, and now is saying what I feared could happen over the summer — his body won’t let him do it.
“If things don’t go so well and it hurts everywhere, it could be that 2017 will be the end. Actually, my plan is to complete the 20 years and play for Dallas until 2018. But just because I have signed a two-year contract doesn’t automatically mean that I will play for two years. It could happen next year.”
This season has not gone the way Dirk predicted — at all — when he signed a two-year, $50 million deal back in July. Dirk expected to play in competitive games with the chance to make the playoffs. That’s all he wanted and Mavs owner Mark Cuban did his best by acquiring Warriors’ players Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut.
Injuries have limited Dirk to five games this season and there is no timetable for his return. And the Mavs are not making the playoffs.
The Mavs, who lost at home to the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night, are an NBA-worst 6-19. They are primed to earn their way into the NBA lottery for the first time in a generation.
The last time the Mavs had a pick in the top 10 was in 1998, when they used the sixth pick on on Michigan forward Robert “Tractor” Traylor. They immediately dealt that pick to acquire the ninth selection from the Milwaukee Bucks, Dirk Nowitzki.
(Guard Devin Harris was drafted with the fifth pick by the Washington Wizards in 2004 and he was sent to the Mavs as part of a pre-draft day deal).
As horrible as the Mavs’ season has been, three-fourths of the schedule remains. Right now the Portland Trail Blazers are 13-14, good for the eighth seed. There is still a chance that should Dirk return, the team could make a run at the eighth spot to earn the fun of being blown out in the first round against the Golden State Warriors.
What Dirk wants is to play competitive, relevant basketball games late in the season, and while that still is possible nothing so far this season suggests that will happen.
And now Dirk, who does not know how to lie, is just being honest — this may be it.