Photo from Mavs.com.
Someday, I’ll be forced to sit down at my keyboard and articulate exactly what Dirk Nowitzki has meant to the Dallas Mavericks. It will be painful and absolutely futile. I’ll haphazardly throw thoughts into this virtual space with the hope that some of it means something, and yet be forced to face the realization that none of it could possibly do Dirk and his career justice. What this man has done for this franchise and basketball in general is beyond words, words, words, and I pity the future me that’s forced to write such a basketball epitaph.
Instead, I couldn’t be happier to say that the Mavericks will continue with business as usual. Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs have agree to terms on a four-year, $80 million contract, in which Nowitzki will leave some $16.2 million on the table to benefit the only franchise he’s ever known. It’s a touching gesture from the most important figure in Dallas Mavericks history, and fuels the hope of a substantial upgrade this off-season. Nowitzki’s unselfishness has given Mark Cuban the liberty to chase stars, and even if he ends up grasping at the biggest and brightest with little to show for it, Dirk’s sacrifice means plenty.
Though Nowitzki can’t officially ink the deal until July 8th, the agreement between him and the Mavs signals the beginning of the next stage of Dallas’ off-season. Brendan Haywood should now become the team’s top priority, and beyond that, the proper and optimal utilization of Erick Dampier’s instantly expiring contract. There are all kind of targets and options available to Dallas, and with Nowitzki locked up until 2014, only now can they become more than mere possibilities.
Dirk is also the proud new owner of a no-trade clause, one of two such clauses to currently exist in the NBA. In actuality, it means very little; it’s extremely unlikely that Cuban and Nelson would ever trade Dirk without his consent anyway, which means that the clause is merely a literal version of an established principle. It’s just something to keep everyone sleeping a bit more soundly at night, and if that’s what Mark and Donnie afforded Dirk to compensate for his considerable financial concessions, then good on all them.
It should be a busy summer, but take a moment to celebrate: the Mavs have just agreed to the best deal of free agency thus far.