For this whole year, it was written off as a sure thing that Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki would opt in for the final year of his contract with the team. Now that the Spurs bounced the Mavs out of this year’s playoffs in the first round, Dirk is changing his tune: he is considering a change of scenery.
It’s hard to imagine Dirk’s playing in any other color than that dark blue (and green, sometimes), but in such a big free-agent market, he would be wise to get out now.
Nowitzki’s certainly a great player, although he’s a little older (31) than most of the other stars going on the market. He also doesn’t play defense, but neither does Amar’e. It’s questionable whether he’ll command a max. contract, but some teams will definitely consider it. Remember that he has been in the league longer than many of the other elite players, so he can get a bigger deal.
With that said, let’s take a look at some of the teams (other than Dallas — even if he opts out, Dallas can still pursue him) that might make a play for Dirk come July.
(1) Miami Heat
It’s nearly a forgone conclusion that Dwyane Wade is going to stay in Miami. With that in mind, the Heat management team is looking to bring another star in to ball alongside Wade in some sort of Robin-to-Batman capacity. Nowitzki would fill a need for a talented big-man presence, but he is not the banger they would like in South Beach. Nevertheless, a tandem of Wade and Nowitzki would be incredible in the scoring department.
(2) New York Knicks
The Knicks will take anyone they can get. Sure, LeBron is priority No. 1, but that’s the case for all the cap space–laden teams. If New York can bring him in along with another top-tier player, they’ll be very well off.
(3) New Jersey Nets
Dirk isn’t an ideal fit for the Nets for three reasons: first, his age isn’t really consistent with the rebuilding plan; second, he doesn’t play defense (and the Nets are trying to push that next year); third, he’s more of an isolation player — John Wall may be coming in next year, and they’ll want to be working a true offense with Wall at the helm.
That said, pairing Nowitzki with Brook Lopez down low would give them a solid interior-exterior duality from the power forward and center slots. The Nets’ perimeter shooting was dreadful this season.