According to ESPN.com's Tim MacMahon, the German superstar said he plans to pick up his player option with the Mavs for the 2016-17 campaign:
Dirk says he plans to pick up the player option in his contract for next season. "I always said I wanted to play those 3 years to the end."— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) March 25, 2016
Nowitzki also hammered home the notion he has no desire to play for another team during his career:
Dirk: "In my mind, after we won the championship, it was always clear I will retire a Mav." But he wants no part of a rebuilding project.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) March 25, 2016
While Nowitzki intends to honor that part of his contract, it is unclear what the future holds for him beyond that. Next season could be his last, although he is currently playing at an extremely high level, which means Dallas may try to keep him in the fold.
The 7-footer is averaging 18.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game for a Mavericks team that has somewhat unexpectedly been in the Western Conference playoff hunt all season.
According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, he is scoring at a more consistent clip in recent weeks than he has in the past several years:
Dirk Nowitzki's eight straight 20-point games account for his longest such streak since a 16-gamer in 2011 in the Mavs' championship season.— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) March 21, 2016
That included a 40-point effort against the Portland Trail Blazers, which put him in elite company among players who are 37 or older, per Tim Cato of Mavs Moneyball:
Players who have scored 40 at age 37 or older: Jordan, Kareem, Karl Malone, and now Dirk.— Tim Cato (@tim_cato) March 20, 2016
With forward Chandler Parsons potentially set to hit free agency this coming offseason, Nowitzki may have to take on an even greater burden in 2016-17.
While he certainly isn't at the same level he was when he won the NBA MVP award in 2007 and vied for it many years before and after, Nowitzki is still a high-quality player in the NBA.
The Mavs will likely be hard-pressed to be contenders in the Western Conference even with him in the fold unless they have a huge offseason, but the fact that he seems fairly committed to coming back means they should at least be in the mix for a playoff spot.
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