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Friday, April 30, 2010
Nelson makes Dirk's return top priority

By Jeff Caplan

DALLAS -- Is Dirk Nowitzki seriously contemplating opting out of his contract and becoming a free agent this summer or is it simply the emotions of another postseason disappointment doing the talking?

Dallas Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson isn't interested in finding out. He said making sure Nowitzki is in a Mavs uniform next season is his top priority.

"We can't imagine Dirk not being in a Maverick uniform. I mean, he's been here for so long and he's paid the ultimate price and sacrifice," Nelson said. "I think he and Jason [Kidd] are the most disappointed of anyone."

Nelson said that disappointment needs to settle before moving forward on contract issues.

"He's in a tough place right now. All of us, from top to bottom, had higher aspirations for the postseason. Our hopes kind of got dashed on the rocks and now's not the time to be talking about emotional-type things," Nelson said. "We want to make good decisions. As we get through this emotional time, then at the right time we'll sit down and talk about it.

"But, I can tell you, from Mark [Cuban] to management, all the way down, we will do whatever needs to happen to make sure he's in a Maverick uniform."

If Nowitzki doesn't not opt out, he will enter the final year of his contract next season. Of course, the Mavs' plan would be to sign Nowitzki to an extension this summer and not have to worry about opting out or free agency for several more years.