Dirk Nowitzki Won't Sign In-Season Extension with Mavs, Will Become Free Agent

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistNovember 26, 2013

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Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban will go superstar hunting for the third straight summer next offseason.

But the prize of this pursuit—Mavs lifer Dirk Nowitzki—should prove infinitely more attainable than Cuban's previous targets (Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard).

Nowitzki, who is in the final season of his current contract with Dallas, told Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he intends to hit the open market next summer, but he's more concerned with the present than the future:

I don't really want to look forward too much. I'm not going to extend, obviously, I'm going to play the season out, then we can talk about the summer...So I want to have a good season. I want to have an injury-free season.

So far, news has been good on both fronts. The 35-year-old has played in each of Dallas' first 15 games and is one of just 21 players in the league averaging better than 20 points per game (20.7 to be exact).

With his scoring touch as strong as ever, he won't be short on suitors next summer. But he's never masked his desire to remain with the only franchise he's ever known.

"I really want to finish my career in Dallas," he told USA Today's Sam Amick late last season.

He's even gone so far as to promise taking "a significant pay cut" in his next contract, via Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas. Then again, as he told Price, there should be plenty of money to go around next summer.

"My contract is coming off, (Shawn Marion's) is coming off, Vince (Carter's) is coming off, so there's a lot of money under the cap," he said.

In other words, he's probably not looking for the $48.5 million Kobe Bryant just got from the Los Angeles Lakers, via ESPN.com, but he's not going to play on a veteran's minimum deal, either.

But all of those talks will be held at a future date. Nowitzki's more focused on the playoff picture than the negotiating table.

"This is game 13 or 14 of this season, and I'm more worried about this season than July already," he told Price.

The rest of us may not be able to fathom the money Nowitzki's going to pocket next summer, but the sweet-shooting big man is right. He does have bigger fish to fry right now.

Despite dropping a home-and-home series with the Denver Nuggets, Dallas (9-6) still holds the sixth-best record in the Western Conference.