Dirk Nowitzki ponders FIBA return

Updated: September 10, 2013, 11:31 AM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

In the Olympic summer of 2016, Dirk Nowitzki will be 38 years old.

But Nowitzki says he'll indeed consider a return to international basketball that summer if he thinks his return to the German national squad can clinch a spot for his homeland in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

"If I'm still healthy enough and we have a chance to qualify, then I'd consider it," Nowitzki told ESPN.com late Monday.

Nowitzki was responding to statements made earlier Monday by Germany coach Frank Menz, who told ESPN.com's Mark Woods after Germany's elimination from the EuroBasket tournament in Slovenia that the face of the Dallas Mavericks has left open the possibility of a national-team return if the squad continues to progress.

Germany failed to advance past the group stage of EuroBasket this month, playing without Nowitzki, NBA veteran center Chris Kaman and Atlanta Hawks rookie guard Dennis Schroeder. But the Germans turned heads with an upset of heavily favored France in their Group A opener. Germany also prevented Israel from advancing out of the group with a narrow win in Monday's Group A finale.

Nowitzki, to this day, regards qualification for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing -- with Kaman's assistance -- as an achievement on par with the NBA championship he won in Dallas in 2011. It's Menz's belief that adding the likes of Nowitzki and Schroeder to the promising cast of unheralded shooters Germany has assembled would put the Germans back in Olympic contention.

"The boys looked great in that France game," Nowitzki said. "They had great phases and rough stretches after that, but it was hard for a young team to come back after an emotional win and play at a high level. That's normal for a young team."

Benz told Woods: "[Nowitzki] wants all the younger players to one day have a chance to play at an Olympic Games. He had that experience. He said: 'But that's 2016. I have three more NBA seasons [until then].'

"And he's not the youngest player. He has a family now. So we'll see. But he's always in touch. He follows what we do. He has a chance and -- if we have a good team -- we might see."

Nowitzki last played for Germany in 2011 at EuroBasket in Lithuania shortly after the Mavericks' title run, but it would appear that -- with or without Kaman -- Nowitzki would have a lot more help on the roster next time if he consents to making an international comeback.

Nowitzki, though, has more immediate questions about his future to resolve, with free agency looming in July after he plays out the final season of his current contract in 2013-14.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics

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