It’s been expected that if Dirk Nowitzki decides to play overseas during the lockout, he would return to his native Germany. Bayern Munich reportedly has had interest as would plenty of teams.
But could he turn down $1.5 million per month?
That is what the Zhejiang Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association are reportedly offering him, according to the German publication Bild (via Hoopshype).
This wouldn’t be the first rumor of a big-money offer from China, Dwyane Wade was reportedly offered $2 million a month (something both sides denied). The Chinese league does not start play until December, so this all could be very preliminary.
If there is one guy who would turn it down it would be Nowtizki. He could be raking in the endorsement dollars right now, but he doesn’t want to.
If he wants to play in Germany, then that’s where he will go. He also has three years and $53.7 million left on his deal with the Mavericks and he wants to defend his NBA title, so you can bet there will be an opt-out clause in any deal.
This summer Nowitzki will play for Germany in EuroBasket, where the team will try to qualify for the 2012 Olympics.
There are two ways to look at it. If you’re an older NBA player — don’t trust anyone over 30 — either your body could use the rest from an extended NBA lockout or you are watching time tick off the clock doing nothing.
Throw Dirk Nowitzki in the latter category.
That said, don’t expect him to go rushing off to join an overseas team. He’s going to take his time, play in EuroBasket (the 2012 London Olympics qualifying tournament) into mid September, then when that is over take a look around, according to Marc Stein as ESPN.
“I’ve always said I’m too old to sit around for a whole year,” said Nowitzki, who turned 33 a week after the Mavs’ title-clinching Game 6 in Miami. “I still can’t see this being a long lockout, but if it is, I’m going to find somewhere to play.”
Bayern Munich, known worldwide for its soccer prowess, is trying to make its first-ever splash in German basketball circles and has been chasing Nowitzki for months in the knowledge that a lockout was likely forthcoming. Sources close to the situation likewise say free-spending Zhejiang — which also reportedly is courting Miami’s Dwyane Wade — is among the Chinese clubs that are offering more than $1 million per month to try to convince Nowitzki to play there.
I still tend to think you’re not going to see a lot of big NBA stars jump overseas. But if come mid-September things look very bad and a Chinese team comes in with a massive offer, it might be hard to walk away from that.