At age 37, Dirk Nowitzki was the best Dallas Mavericks player in their first round series against the Thunder. By far. He averaged 20.5 points a game with a 56.4 true shooting percentage, he was playing to the point of exhaustion and leading by example.
After that, he said he’d be back for another season in Dallas.
Nowitzki has an $8.7 million player option for next season, the last year of his recent three-year deal, and after the Mavericks were eliminated he reiterated he plans to come back for it. Here is what Nowitzki said postgame, via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.
“I signed on for three years a couple years ago. My intention was always to finish this contract. I always said I wanted to retire [with] the Mavs, especially after we won the championship a few years ago. There’s no reason to go anywhere unless the Mavs are rebuilding. I always said that the last couple of years, I’d never want to be a part of rebuilding. Next season, I’ll be 38. As long as we go for it and every summer we add guys and keep competing, then I’ll be a Mav for the rest of my career.”
Dallas is expected to be aggressive on the free agent market, except as it pertains to Dwight Howard if he wants a max contract (which he does). At some point Dallas will have to start the post-Dirk rebuild era, but don’t be shocked if they put that plan on hold for one more year, bring in some veterans, and try to send Nowitzki off on a playoff team playing meaningful games.