In a surprising move, Dirk Nowitzki spoke prior to the draft on a variety of topics. Here is what he had to say.
Here is Dirk’s pre-draft Quoteboard.
How does it feel to be in the ‘war room’ for the draft?
“I’m really excited. I’m really interested in the process and to see what’s going on and what kind of decisions we make. Maybe I’ll be more involved once my career is over, so I think is definitely something I was interested in seeing and this year being here. And we have a first-round pick, a lottery pick, which we obviously haven’t had in a long, long time. It should be interesting.”
How do you look at this draft?
“We want to get better. That’s obvious. Really, I’m not sure what kind of players we’re looking at. If you look at our roster, we have like five guys under contract, so we need help left and right. We could use a point guard, we could definitely use some shooting, we could use athletes on the wing for defending, we can use some bigs. So, honestly, if you look at the draft, it doesn’t really have the one, two, three star players, but I think it’s deep enough where you could find something at 13 where they could come in and be a solid player. But I guess Cubes has been rumored, might still be looking at trading down to save some cap room for some of the big guys we’re going for. I guess that’s something we’ll find out here in the next couple of hours, but I’m excited to go through the process and see what happens.”
How much of a voice are you taking with you into the room?
“It’s not like today I’m going to make decisions in this room. It’s not like I watched enough college to really make an educated decision here, but I just want to go through the whole process, be in the room and see what’s going on, have some pizza hopefully and talk some hoops. Our scouts and obviously our coaches have been preparing for this day since the end of our season. I don’t watch enough college to have an insight. I know a few players. Obviously, I watched March Madness, but that’s about as far as my college hoops insight goes. I watched some of the draft workouts that we had because I was here the last few months. There were some interesting players, so we’ll see what route we go.”
On Dennis Schroeder, the German rookie coming into the NBA:
“Actually, I did not know much about him at all even though he grew up in Germany. I’ve been gone and every time I played for the national team he was too young, so we never played together. This year, I heard about him right before the Hoop Summit, so I did catch him some. I caught one quarter of that and he looked interesting to me, and then when I heard he was coming here (for a visit), I was excited. I wanted to meet him. I wanted to see his workout and I was impressed (with) how he handled everything, how he played. He has good range, I think he has good drive to the basket, he can pass it. Then we talked afterwards for like 45 minutes. He had some questions and I gave him my phone number if anything ever comes up. I think this an exciting day for him. I wish him nothing but luck. I wish him a long NBA career, whether it’s here or wherever that may be.”
On being involved in free agency:
“I’ll be here. I’ve got obviously my baseball game this weekend and after that I’m free. If we need to go anywhere, if I’m included in that, I’m more than happy to go. If not, that’s fine too. We want to get better. It’s a big summer. We’ve been saying that all year long. The time’s here to make some moves. The time’s here. We only have five guys or six guys under contract, so we have a lot of work to do. There’s a lot of options, a lot of possibilities. Some guys are out there that are interesting. We’ll wait and see what happens.”
Will he be on the plane to meet free agents?
“I’ve got to talk to Mark and Donnie. Those two guys set everything up. Those are the two guys who have the most inside info, so you’ve got to talk to those guys. I’ll probably get the last-minute text: ‘Hey, you wanna go?’ I’ll jump in and then we’ll go.”
Have you spoken to Dwight Howard?
“I reached out to him. That’s about probably as far as I would go. I reached out to him and told him we’d love to happen. That’s really about it. It’s not like we call each other every day. I haven’t written him a letter. We’ve just had a little phone contact and that’s about it.”
How did that conversation go?
“He’s doing well, he’s doing well. I guess he’s just weighing out his options. He didn’t really say anything that was newsworthy. He’s just weighing out his options. I’m sure he has a couple of meetings set up for whenever that might be in early July. Hopefully, the Mavs are one of those teams and we’ll go from there.”
How would you feel about playing with Dwight:
“To me, when he’s healthy, he’s the most dominant big man in the league. He showed it at the end of the season when he was right and what he can still do and can dominate on both ends of the floor if he’s healthy. He can still use his athleticism. He’s a beast on both ends of the floor. I’d love to play with a guy you can throw the ball in the post and I’ll just be out there spreading the floor. On the defensive end of the floor, a guy who can protect the rim like that is obviously a luxury. We’d love to have him, but so would the other teams with cap room which is a couple. We’ll just wait and see what happens.”
What is the sales pitch?
“I think we’ve been through this a couple of times but the sales pitch hasn’t changed. When I come off next year, we’ll have even more cap room to get better. The fans are a part of it with the sellout streak. No state taxes. All of that.”
Does it feel like a moment of truth to hit on players now?
“Honestly, we can put all of our eggs in one basket. I just think we need to have multiple things going. If we don’t get Dwight or whoever says no, we’ve got to have other options. We don’t want to get too excited off of one thing.
“I think the whole eight or nine one-year players didn’t work out. I think that was pretty obvious, and I don’t think that’s the route we’re going to go again. If the top free agents don’t decide to come here, we’ve got to get better and find a way to get better with some of the second tier players out there. If Dwight doesn’t come here, we have to find a way to be a playoff team again and have a good summer. We’ll see what happens.”
How patient do you have to be?
“One year out of the playoffs, to me, is already one year too many. It’s been a tough two years right after we won it. We’d love to get back into the playoffs with whoever is here. We’ll see. Being patient in sports is tough, especially at my age. I just turned 35 and I’d love to compete at the highest level for the last couple of years. Like I said, the one-year deals didn’t work. Now we’ve got to have a plan. There are some guys out there that can definitely help us get into the playoffs.”
On the idea of Shawn Marion possibly leaving:
“We’ll cross that bridge once we get there if Dwight really says he’d love to be here, he’d love to come and this is where he wants to play, then that’s something we have to address then. Now I don’t think we have to address that. I loved playing with all of my championship teammates. We had a great team and chemistry. I was sad seeing all of them go. It would be the same if we did part ways with [Marion]. We’ve been through a lot. We’re the same age and we almost came into the league together. We’ve seen a lot together in this league and we won the ring together. It’s been a great ride together. We’ll see how far we can still take it. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Outside of Dwight, who are the top free agents out there?
“I think there’s a bunch of guys out there that can play. I don’t know who you consider to be a second-tier or third-tier, but there are some good players. If you look at guys like [Andre] Iguodala, [Al] Jefferson, [Brandon] Jennings or [Monta] Ellis, there’s a lot of players that are good that are maybe not quite superstar level but if you have enough good players like the Denver concept they showed the last couple of years. They really didn’t have one star player but they had a bunch of really, really good players … I guess that’s where we’re at. If we can’t get a top superstar, we have to find a way to be really, really good.”
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He also attended Ball So Hard University, studying ideologies of Clark Kent. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.