Dirk Nowitzki must be consumed with internal conflict right now. On the one hand, he wants to spend his twilight years contending for NBA titles. On the other hand, he wants to finish his Hall of Fame career with the Dallas Mavericks.
Who, at the moment, look like anything but championship material now that their 12-year playoff streak is all but kaput. As Nowitzki recently told Sam Amick of USA Today:
"Now that I already reached my goal (of winning it all), I really want to finish my career in Dallas. But saying all that, I don't want another year next year with the same as this year, (with) the frustration and playing for the eight or nine seed. I think we all know that this is a very big summer for us. (Mavericks general manager) Donnie (Nelson) knows. Cuban knows. We want to get back to the championship level."
Going from the NBA draft lottery to title contention in a year is no easy feat, to say the least, and will require at least one free-agent coup on Dallas' part this summer. Such seems less likely than ever, what with Chris Paul and Dwight Howard likely to stay in LA and Josh Smith, who's hardly on their level, looking like the best option on the market.
All of which points to another down year in Big D in 2013-14 and, perhaps, an impetus for the giant German's exodus from the only NBA home he's ever known. He's got one year left on his current deal, and though he turns 35 this June, he expects to ink another deal before his playing days are through.
As he should. Nowitzki's regained a significant measure of his former superstar form of late, after battling through knee problems and poor conditioning for most of the campaign. Father Time may be undefeated, but it'll be a while before he can touch Dirk's seven-foot frame or his silky smooth jump shot.
That being the case, if the Mavs are bound for a full-scale rebuild and Nowitzki wants another ring, it might behoove the two parties to part ways, sacrilegious as that may sound. Granted, the chances of Dirk suiting up for anyone other than the Mavs rest somewhere between "slim" and "none," though these seven destinations would make the most sense for the most prolific Euro in NBA history.