After concluding his interview on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s Fitzsimmons and Durrett, ESPNDallas.com spoke with Dirk Nowitzki to expand on a few of his thoughts. Here are the highlights:
You mentioned a few weeks ago that you would be willing to take a “significant pay cut” on your next contract. With guys like Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan taking pay cuts as a frame of reference, have you thought about a number in terms of salary you would be willing to go as low as?
Dirk: “Not really. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. It kind of depends on what team we can get, too. I’ve always said that (Mark) Cuban has taken care of me for a long, long time. Money isn’t something I play for. I want to compete. I want to win. We’ll play this year and hopefully have a great team and then I’ll come off the books. Then, we can all sit together again and see how many guys we can get and who is out there. Saying all of that, I think that’s something I haven’t really thought about yet in terms of an actual number. We’d love to be as competitive as we can be.”
Would you use the fact that a pay cut could be an option as you talk to free agents on July 1st?
Dirk: “Yeah. Obviously, I’m not going to make $23 million again. I know that. I’m 36 next summer, so this is going to be my last year of making money like a franchise player. That gives us even more cap space next year. I’m sure it’s going to come up. We’ll see if that has an impact on anything or helps us bring anything. We’re obviously trying to sell the big picture and that’s one small part of it.”
You said that July 1 is an exciting phase. It’s a pivotal time for the franchise, but it’s actually the second year in a row that you have had cap space to work with. Does this year feel any different than last year in terms of anticipation?
Dirk: “I feel like we’re almost more all in, everybody is even more excited. Last year, (Deron Williams) would have been great, but he was kind of the only free agent that was out there that made sense for us. This year, I feel like there are a couple of more options. Cuban is so fired up not to go through another year like we just had. He’s all in to make something happen. If we don’t get a top free agent, whether it’s through other things like sign-and-trades and whatever, he’s committed to bringing this franchise back to where it belongs and that’s in the top four in the West and having home-court advantage. We’ve got some ways to go but as long as everyone is all in, it should be a fun summer.”
Being in the war room for the draft for the first time, what kind of influence or voice do you think you’ll present during the draft?
Dirk: “Honestly, there were rumors that Cuban would trade the pick to get even more cap room. That’s something that I don’t know much about or I have no idea about. I think that’s up to Cuban and (Donnie Nelson). I’m not going to make that decision. That’s a business decision they obviously need to make. I don’t understand the cap room situation and stuff like that as good as they do, so they need to make that decision. If that’s the case, then that’s what we need to do. We can go even all in more with free agents if we do that.
If we don’t, we’ll see what’s available at 13. There are some interesting players in that spot. There’s some bigs and some guards. Honestly, if you look at our roster, we’ve got five guys. We need help from the top to the bottom. We can use big guys, we can use guards and we can use shooters and athletes. I’m sure we can find some help if we keep the pick.”
When you talked about coming to the realization that it was the “right thing” to break up the championship team, did it a take a while to come to that realization?
Dirk: “Yeah, in the lockout year, we were hoping that we would have everybody back. Now, a year further along, I’m turning 35, (Jason Kidd) just retired and turned 40 and (Jason Terry) is going to turn 36. I’m not sure how far we could have ridden it. It would have been interesting to see and I would have loved to seen it. Like I mentioned in the interview, the lockout year was tough on the older guys and tough on their bodies. It was a lot of games heading into the playoffs. I’m not sure if we would have had a decent chance to repeat there. Business-wise, we had to make the decision. Looking back at it now, I think it was the right one.”