Dirk Nowitzki: 'Pretty Sure I'm Not Going to Sign Kobe's Deal, Unfortunately'

Ben Leibowitz@BenLeboCorrespondent IIIMay 5, 2014

PHOENIX - FEBRUARY 15: Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant of the Western Conference warm up during the 58th NBA All-Star Game, part of 2009 NBA All-Star Weekend, at US Airways Center on February 15, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE  (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
Barry Gossage/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks' soon-to-be 36-year-old, Dirk Nowitzki, is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He still played at a high level throughout 2013-14 and earned his 12th career All-Star appearance, but the 7-footer quipped that he doubts he’ll receive Kobe Bryant money during the offseason.

The former MVP said the following, per a tweet from Mavs.com’s Earl K. Sneed:

Nowitzki is referencing the gargantuan two-year, $48.5 million contract extension The Black Mamba signed in November. Despite not having played a single regular-season minute for the Los Angeles Lakers after suffering an Achilles tear last April, management locked up the future Hall of Famer at that hefty price tag.

The lofty figure of Bryant’s new contract drew criticism from NBA fans and pundits alike. Grantland’s Zach Lowe, for instance, wrote the following in November:

Making Bryant the highest-paid player in the NBA over the next two seasons is, objectively, not a smart thing. He’s 35 years old, and he has not played a single minute of in-game basketball after suffering a traumatic injury that has devastated nearly every player who has suffered it and managed to stay in the league.

Bryant, however, defended his new salary by saying the following, per Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski:

Most of us have aspirations for being businessmen when our playing careers are over. But that starts now. You have to be able to wear both hats. You can't sit up there and say, 'Well, I'm going to take substantially less because there's public pressure,' because all of a sudden, if you don't take less, you don't give a crap about winning. That's total bull----.'

Well, then.

Of course, relative to overall play in 2013-14, perhaps it was Dirk who deserved that extension.

Dirk Nowitzki vs. Kobe Bryant (2013-14 Stats)
Dirk Nowitzki8049.7%39.8%
Kobe Bryant642.5%18.8%

In addition to the superior stats and durability, Nowitzki's Mavericks made the playoffs and pushed the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs to the brink of elimination during Round 1 of the playoffs.

The veteran from Germany is correct to assume he won't be the highest-paid player in the Association next season. He's entering the twilight of his career and struggled in Round 1 against San Antonio by shooting a meager 42.9 percent from the field and an embarrassing 8.3 percent from three-point range (one of 12).

Is there a chance that Nowitzki will abide by his past promise to take a "significant pay cut" in free agency?

ESPN's Tim MacMahon reported last May that the big man intended to do so if the Mavericks managed to bring in a big-name free agent like Chris Paul or Dwight Howard. That obviously didn't happen, but could Dirk still choose to do so?

"At this point of my career, it's all about competing and winning," Nowitzki said at the time, per MacMahon.

If that's still his mantra, taking a pay cut to lure stars to Dallas would be an intriguing option. Nowitzki wants to win another ring, but it's unclear how many years he has left in the tank.