After striking out on their biggest targets in free agency this summer, the Dallas Mavericks re-signed Dirk Nowitzki to a two-year, $50 million deal. According to Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in a recent CBS Radio interview (transcription via Yahoo), that money was significantly more than Nowitzki and his agent asked for.
“Dirk wasn’t even in the country and people couldn’t even reach him when free agency started,” Cuban told us. “I basically told him, look, you tell me the price and it actually started lower. His agent said ‘how about this much’ and we said ‘we’ll have a little more money, we’ll give you more’ and as the numbers started getting bigger and bigger, it was like ‘what about this number?’ ‘We’ll give you more.’ Finally, it was like ‘this is what we got left, take it!’
“We wanted to make it a two-year deal with a team option so that people wouldn’t speculate that he was going to retire because Dirk is the type of guy, he’s just a good guy. He would hate going city to city to city and everyone asking him if he was going to retire because he has no intention of retiring after this year and, with the team option that we have, he gave us the flexibility that said ‘if we find somebody that we can send the money to that he likes, we all like, then let’s do it and if not, let’s give the money to Dirk again which I’m fine with too.”
Nowitzki has previously taken hometown discounts to help facilitate other deals the Mavericks wanted to make. He signed a three-year, $25 million contract in 2014 with a player option for the fourth year, after making $20 million in the season before that. The plan was for Cuban to use the cap space to sign other big-name free agents and get the Mavs back in the title chase. They went after Carmelo Anthony and LaMarcus Aldridge and had a commitment last summer from DeAndre Jordan before Jordan infamously changed his mind and re-signed with the Clippers. The Mavs were forced to use that cap space on second-tier free agents like Wesley Matthews and Deron Williams.
This summer, they were so far under the cap that after missing out on Mike Conley and Hassan Whiteside, they were able to sign Harrison Barnes to a four-year max deal, take Andrew Bogut’s $12 million expiring deal from the Warriors, re-sign Williams for one year and $10 million, and still give Nowitzki this giant deal. The Mavs won’t be contending for a title anytime soon, so they might as well reward Dirk for his sacrifices over the years.