Who knows how these things get started? An offhand comment here, a journalist hungry for an idea there, and all of a sudden the NBA world is abuzz with the thought that Dirk Nowitzki might leave the only basketball team he's ever known for a chance at a ring.
But as Karl Malone proved, joining a loaded team at the end of your career isn't necessarily a surefire way to get that ring. And as John Stockton proved, you don't have to sell out to not win a championship.
Clearly Dirk would be a sought-after commodity by a lot of teams, but the question remains, will any of them give Dirk a better chance to win a title than the Mavericks?
Dirk basically has three options facing him at this point in his career: the Kevin Garnett, the John Stockton or the Paul Pierce.
Kevin Garnett busted his butt for most of his career playing with terrible players, and he only won his championship by being traded to another team. He got his ring, but it must be bittersweet for T-Wolves fans.
John Stockton became an icon for the Utah Jazz, staying with the team as long as he could, but not winning a ring. Do people respect Stockton any less? I don't think so, but he never got that ring.
And Paul Pierce, who slaved away at the bottom of the league for most of his career, but still stayed loyal to the fans and the franchise, and was ultimately rewarded for his efforts. As thrilled as Ray Allen and Garnett were to win that ring, it didn't compare with the joy Pierce felt, as evidenced by his tears at the ring ceremony.
Sure, Dirk will more than likely stay, but there's no reason we can't have a little fun in examining his options for him, right?
Of all the teams that have space to spend big this summer, Chicago is the most promising. With a core of Derrick Rose and Jaokim Noah, this team is ready to rock and roll, and if they get a big piece this summer, they'll really be ready to make a run back to the Finals.
Dirk's style of play would go perfectly with Rose and Noah. Noah is a player that loves to do all the dirty work down low, something Dirk has never had.
Derrick Rose is capable of doing just about anything on the offensive end, and he can create his own shot off the dribble, another thing Dirk has never had.
Dirk would be like a rich man's Brad Miller for the Bulls, a better shooter and a more versatile offensive player.
One of the things that always hurts the Mavs is their lack of offensive rebounding. With Dirk often working from the foul line out, one half of their frontcourt is unavailable to go for the offensive rebound.
When you're counting on Erick Dampier to make a hustle play, then you're really in trouble, as the Mavs know.
But Noah is a player that has made his bones making those hustle plays, and whatever he lacks in pure athleticism, Noah makes up for in hustle and determination to make the play, to win the game.
He's also a player that doesn't need the ball to make an impact on the game, which is a rarity in today's league.
The downside of Dirk going to the Bulls would be him and Luol Deng paired up as the forwards. Deng is about as one-dimensional as you get, and if he's not on his jumper, then he's useless.
But could a core of Dirk, Rose, and Noah make some waves in the NBA? You bet, not to mention whoever else the Bulls could sign with their cap space, because Dirk won't warrant a max deal or anything like that.
Imagine Ray Allen coming to the Bulls as well. That's a pretty formidable group out there, and you'd be hard-pressed to double anyone without getting burned by the others.
Since this article is based on the hype created by sports media, let's go along with this. Since we all KNOW that LeBron is going to come to a 29-win team with no first round pick, let's put him on the Knicks.
Mike D'Antoni's all offense, no defense approach would suit Dirk fine, and he's one of the best guys to have trailing on the fast break.
But just for fun, and as I suggested in a previous article when I was hysterical, let's put Dirk wherever LeBron goes.
Dirk was made to play with LeBron. Everyone loved to talk about how Antawn Jamison was the perfect power forward to play with Bron Bron. But Jamison is just a poor man's Dirk in every way.
Dirk's a better shooter (especially from deep), a better rebounder most of the time, and he's a smarter player. Jamison loves to take long jumpers with a foot on the three-point line, but Dirk is good about knowing when to take a jumper and when to drive to the cup.
Dirk would benefit greatly with the offensive attention payed to LeBron, and if LeBron is playing the four with Dirk as the center (something the Cavs were quite successful with playing Anderson Varejao at the center) that's a lineup that can really do some damage.
If it's rings that Dirk's after, he should sign wherever LeBron goes, and sit back and watch the rings pour in.
The Miami Heat are a team that's in the running to surround Dwyane Wade with talent. Amare Stoudemire has been discussed, as has Chris Bosh.
So what about Dirk Nowitzki, the best power forward in the game? Sure, it would pain us Mavericks fans to see Dirk go to the enemy, and possibly help the hated D-Wade win another ring.
But Miami is missing a lot more than just a power forward. Michael Beasley hasn't given them much, and him and Dirk as the forwards wouldn't do much to help the Heat defend along the perimeter.
Dirk is only at his best when backed by a solid center, and who knows what free agent will be signing to replace Jermaine O'Neal.
The Wizards have a lot of cap room this summer, and they're really not being considered as a prime free-agent destination, and for good reason.
But that doesn't mean they can't make a run at things. And Dirk would be an interesting signing.
Randy Foye is a guard on the rise, and you know Gilbert will be coming to play with a chip on his shoulder, and that's when he's at his most dangerous.
With Gilbert, Dirk would have a scorer than is capable of putting up the big numbers, more so than anyone else Dirk has played with.
JaVale McGee is also a promising young defensive-minded center which is the perfect frontcourt compliment to Dirk.
Ok, clearly going to the Wizards won't help Dirk get to a championship, and sure, it will probably lead to him tearing an ACL sooner rather than later, but it's a possibility I can't ignore.
I see myself and Dirk getting a bachelor pad in Georgetown. We'll run that part of town. By day, he'll go to shootaround and I'll work my normal job. By night, he'll drop 30 a night while helping to Wiz back to the playoffs while I cook and clean and make sure the fridge is stocked with his favorite foods.
On weekends we'll open up our detective agency and solve crimes, and occasionally we'll go to the monuments and panhandle, him on saxophone, me on acoustic guitar and harmonica, and we'll spend out golden years together...
I'm sorry, what was I talking about?
Should Dirk in fact opt out, this would be the most likely scenario.
Dirk has said in the past that he would consider opting out of the deal what would pay him $21.5 million in 2010-11, to help the Mavs have some financial flexibility to sign a core player.
While Dirk has certainly earned every penny he gets, and shouldn't have to give up his money, it's also not entirely out of character for him.
After all, money doesn't seem to be the be-all end-all for him. He doesn't do many endorsements, just a car dealership one that gives him some free wheels, and he doesn't own tons of properties and lots of fancy stuff.
Whatever else Dirk may be, he's not greedy, and while he shouldn't have to take less money for his team to win, the competitor in him might be willing to do so.
The Mavs aren't in need of multiple pieces like a lot of teams on here, a solid low-post scoring option or a shooting guard who is capable of putting up 20-25 a game would solve their problems quite nicely.
While Dirk has earned the right to opt out and chase the rings elsewhere, it goes against everything we know about him to do so.
He has proven himself loyal if nothing else, and as he has said himself, winning a ring with another jersey on just wouldn't feel the same.
I think we can all agree on that.