It came as no surprise on Tuesday when it was reported that Dirk Nowitzki would be re-upping with the Dallas Mavericks on a two-year deal worth about $40 million. He’s that increasingly rare breed of superstar athlete whose loyalty to the organization that drafted him overrides all other priorities. And it hasn’t come cheap.
After Dallas’ 2011 championship season, the Big German has consistently taken pay cuts in effort to give his team more cap space to sign free agents, and the sum of those wage losses is enough to make your head spin. He’s reportedly sacrificed nearly $79 million. Yes, the new contract is a bit of an upgrade, but it’s still not close to what he could’ve potentially earned. Via Eddie Sefko of SportsDay:
Nowitzki, spending time in Europe, confirmed what everybody knew early Tuesday, telling a German reporter he was “definitely staying in Dallas.”
The only question was what paycheck he would be receiving, and while he’s getting a nice raise, he’s still giving the Mavericks a hometown discount.
He could have signed for as much as $31 million in the first season. It continued the trend that he started in 2010-11 of taking less money to give Cuban more flexibility when it came to building a roster.
Which begs the question: was it worth it? Seeing as how the Mavericks haven’t made a return trip to the NBA Finals (or even the conference finals) in the interim, the easy answer would be no. But it’s not for lack of trying. Dallas has aggressively courted every high-profile free agent on the market the past few summers — Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan, Hassan Whiteside — but they’ve struck out in almost every instance.
It’s a complicated question, but Nowitzki obviously doesn’t feel too terribly conflicted about it. The opportunity to finish a 20-plus year NBA career with the same franchise is something the 38-year-old forward has named as one of his primary goals, and his new contract is simply an extension of that.
They may not win a championship, but they’ve done enough maneuvering to ensure that they’ll at least remain competitive and probably postseason bound. Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut will both be nice additions to that endeavor. At the very least, it will be a stark contrast to the way Kobe Bryant and his enormous contract hampered the Lakers in his final years, culminating in a miserable, lottery-bound 17-win record in his farewell season.