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Friday, April 30, 2010
Dirk non-committal, keeping options open

By Jeff Caplan

DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki gave his final interview of the season Friday outside the Dallas Mavericks locker room. He and the club now head into a long and sure-to-be interesting summer.

The face of the franchise can opt of his contract that would pay him $21.5 million next season and become a free agent in July. After Thursday night's Game 6 loss in San Antonio that ended another season in disappointment, Nowitzki said he planned to take some time and keep his options open.

That seemed a departure from his usual stance of declaring his desire to play his entire career in Dallas. On Friday, he said he never had thoughts after the loss that he had played his final game in a Mavs uniform. But, Nowitzki also didn't commit to returning either. He did seem to rule out a possibility of opting out and signing elsewhere for a largely reduced salary, such as for the midlevel exception, for a chance to chase a ring.

"That's somewhere maybe down the line a couple more years when stuff hasn't really worked out the way I want it to," Nowitzki said. "But, at this point, I'm still in my prime, I feel like I've got a couple good years left so I think that's a decision that's way down the line."

Nowitzki didn't extinguish speculation that he could be intrigued by an opt-out situation and signing with a contender at a similar salary. If Nowitzki does not opt out, he will enter the final year of his contract with the Mavs.

"I don't know, this is all pretty fresh. I just have to keep my options open at this point, see what's going on," Nowitzki said. "I have to get over this disappointment for awhile. I'll probably drown my sorrows for a bit and then I'll start thinking about stuff like that in a week or two. As of now, I just want to keep my options, see what happens."

He was asked if, for instance, Steve Nash might try to recruit him to join the Phoenix Suns.

"All that is, as of right now, everything is speculation," Nowitzki said "I always said I want to finish my career here in Dallas. It wouldn't feel the same putting on a different uniform. That really was always my plan, so we'll just have to wait and see."

Asked what type of player he believed the Mavs needed to pursue next season to improve, Nowitzki said an explosive scorer who can create his own shot. He named two, in particular.

"You'd love to get somebody that can be explosive off the dribble, can create his own shot at any given time," Nowitzki said. "Obviously, there are a couple out there, Lebron, D-Wade, one of those guys, a wing player that can create his own shot, score at will."

That would be Cleveland's LeBron James and Miami's Dwyane Wade, both of whom can become free agents on July 1.