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Dirk staying in Big D

Posted By A. J. On Jul 4 2010 @ 10:11 pm In Dallas Mavericks | 1 Comment

It’s okay Mavs fans, you can breathe a sigh of relief now. Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks have agreed on a four-year contract [1]worth $80 million, including a no-trade clause, to keep the Mavs’ all-time leading scorer in Dallas for seemingly the rest of the big German’s career.

Nowitzki could’ve demanded a contract worth up to $96 million, the max he could receive. But by agreeing for less, he’s allowed owner Mark Cuban and GM Donnie Nelson to have some additional wiggle-room to add another piece or two alongside Nowitzki via free agency or trades.

Many assumed Nowitzki would remain in Dallas, but now that they’ve locked up their MVP, what next for the Mavericks? And was this the right move for Nowitzki as he seeks out a championship? 

Dirk’s decision – Mavs outlook 

Unless the Mavericks come up with something big this offseason, it’ll most likely be the same story for Dallas and Dirk; another solid regular season followed by an early or disappointing playoff exit. In the rugged Western Conference, teams need more than one All-Star to be succesful. 

With the verbal committment from Nowitzki to remain in Dallas (free agents can’t officially sign contracts until July 8), what’s next for the Dallas Mavericks?  The Mavs are in the midst of 10 straight 50-win seasons, including an NBA Finals appearance during that stretch, with no hardware to show for it. Upgrading around the Mavs’ core of Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, Jason Terry and promising young guard Rodrigue Beaubois will be a huge task for Dallas. Caron Butler, who the Mavs acquired midseason, is a nice piece, but would have to be included in almost any significant trades. The center position for Dallas is a big question mark as Brendan Haywood is a free agent and Erick Dampier is more valuable as a trading asset than a player at this point. 

Dirk staying in DallasWith Nowitzki agreeing to a “smaller” contract, it’ll help allow Cuban and Nelson to try and get Dirk some much-needed help. There have been some low-key whispers that the Mavericks might be a dark-horse contender to land LeBron James in a sign-and-trade deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers. James has always made it known how much he loves the Dallas Cowboys and an aggressive owner like Mark Cuban, but that scenario is highly unlikely unless LeBron doesn’t like the views in Chicago, Miami, New York or New Jersey.   

There have also been reports [2] that the Mavericks have targeted Minnesota Timberwolves F/C Al Jefferson. The Wolves have been actively shopping Jefferson, a 6’10 post player who averaged 17 ppg and 9 rpg last season, this offseason to rid themselves of his contract (3 years remaining on a 5-year, $42 million deal) and to allow more playing time for Kevin Love. Jefferson is one of the best low post offensive players in the game and would fit nicely alongside Nowitzki’s perimeter-oriented style of play. However, the Mavs view Jefferson as a player to look at if they miss out on the top-tier free agents.

Will the Mavs send out the same unit as last year, or will there be significant changes in Big D? If they want to make another Finals apperance, they’ll need to make a big move or two to get Nowitzki some serious help, because it’s already been proven that he can’t win a Title on his own.

Dirk’s decision — Dirk’s outlook

Has Dirk Nowitzki essentially kissed away any chances of winning a ring by staying in Dallas? Most signs would point to yes, unless Dallas can swing a big trade or two this offseason.

Nowitzki had plenty of options other than Dallas if he really intended to win a ring. I understand being loyal to the franchise that gave you your big opportunity. I understand staying home. But was this move the best for Dirk himself? 

I’ll have to say no. All I’ve been hearing all offseason is how incredible a LeBron James or Dwyane Wade/Chris Bosh duo would do. Well call me crazy, but I’m positive a James or Wade/Dirk Nowitzki duo would most certainly do some serious damage in the NBA for the next few seasons. 

Dirk and LeBron? Together? (Photo credit ESPN)

Nowitzki is the perfect Robin to play alongside a Batman in LeBron James or Dwyane Wade. Both James and Wade are ball-dominant, contact-driven players who are at their best when going to the basket. There’s no better compliment to that than a 24 ppg, 9 rpg perimeter-oriented forward in Nowitzki. James or Wade would benefit tremendously from not having the pressure to score 35 every night to have a shot to win, and Nowitzki would benefit tremendously from not having to be the man night in and night out. Nowitzki is one of the best long range shooters in the NBA and for Wade or James to have the option to kick it outside to Dirk when they’re double- and triple-teamed while driving to the paint would be a nice luxury.

Nowitzki would’ve been best served heading down to South Beach to team up with Dwyane Wade in Miami, or following LeBron James to wherever ends up. While doing so would not have guaranteed a ring, it would’ve given Nowitzki a much better shot at it rather than staying in Dallas and trying to make it out of the Wild West on his own.

He made his decision, and he’ll stick by it. He is determined to lead his Mavericks to a NBA Championship. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen, but we will have a much better look at how things work themselves out in a couple of weeks. What moves will the Mavs make this offseason? Can they finally put the right pieces together? They’ve been trying. You could argue they’ve been trying moreso than any other team based off their roster overhauls from season to season. From the Michael Finley/Steve Nash days, to the Raef LaFrentz/Nick Van Exel days, to the Antawn Jamison/Antoine Walker days and the Jason Terry/Josh Howard days, the Mavs have tried many different approaches to getting to the top. Where will they go next and who will they turn to this year?

So what now? Well, we wait now. Once the pieces start falling, things will work themselves out very quickly. We’re just waiting on that first domino to fall…until then, it’s all speculation.

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URLs in this post:

[1] agreed on a four-year contract : http://sports.espn.go.com/dallas/nba/news/story?id=5352960

[2] reports: http://www.twincities.com/sports/ci_15403786?nclick_check=1

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