In the wake of Dirk Nowitzki's somewhat surprising opt-out of the final year of his contract, a lot of folks have wondered whether there's a chance he could leave Dallas, and if not, what it means. We asked our staff to discuss.
What are your initial thoughts on Dirk's decision to opt-out of the final year of his contract?
Josh (@boweman55): I think this is the first time Dirk has finally realized how much power he holds over the Mavericks front office. Dirk usually takes an "aw shucks" approach to the off-season, but his comments on the radio on Monday afternoon spoke of a Dirk that's a little bit sick of these garbage rosters being built around him. So actually, not worried at all. I'm fired up that Dirk is going to hold Cuban's ass to the fire this summer.
Bailey (@BRogers789): Worry. I don't actually think Dirk will leave the only NBA home he has ever known. But given how bad Mark Cuban's decision-making has (arguably) been since 2011, I don't at all blame Dirk for taking this step to really put some pressure on the front office. This is a wake up call to Cuban and co: the greatest player in franchise history and one of the nicest, most loyal people in the NBA has lost faith in you. Fucking do something about it. Get the man some help so that he can finish his Dallas career with a legitimate chance at a couple of semi-deep playoff runs.
I think this is a power move by Dirk, and maybe it's just unfortunate he didn't do it sooner. Someone needs to really get Cuban to take an honest look at the past four seasons and reassess his team-building strategies. It kinda feels like maybe Dirk is the only one who can do that, and he finally is using his status as the all-time face of the franchise to speak truth to power.
Doyle (@TheKobeBeef): I'm not really surprised that he decided to opt out. With the cap going up it makes sense if he's looking to get more money. He might also be trying to free up some more money for the team to chase free agents in the summer if he chooses to take less. I suspect though that he's really just looking to have a concrete number of years left under contract before he considers retirement.
Akshay (@amirchandani41): Good for him. There's the potential to get more money with the cap going up, or re-sign for about what he would've made next year anyway. It makes sense. After all of the Mavs' offseason failures, why shouldn't Dirk grab some sort of leverage? He's been the rock through all of the Mavs' struggles since the title, and has always shown support for Cuban and Donnie even through the free agent debacles. It's a good move for him. If anything, like Josh said, it's a message to Cuban that he's not going to play with lesser talent again.
Saad (@SaadYousuf126): Good for Dirk, I'm happy he opted out. This is something I thought he would do before the season even ended. First of all, people keep saying there is no way he would leave because he said he's not retiring. I never said he was retiring, but he has repeatedly said he would stay with the Mavs IF they did not go into rebuilding mode.
Well, right now the only "star" they have is Wesley Matthews. Chandler Parsons coming back is no sure thing. Neither is Deron Williams. The only centers on the roster right now are Salah Mejri and JaVale McGee. I know it makes Mavs fans cringe that there is a possibility that Dirk will leave. Well, here's another cringeworthy thing: The best way to keep Dirk is by taking care of business in free agency, and the first order of business is Chandler Parsons. I know fans have been all over Parsons about how much he gets paid. Well, Mavs better bring him back at any cost because that's a talent AND a ticket to other free agents. Everybody knows the relationship Parsons and Mark Cuban have and if he bolts despite that, it's going to make people not want to come to Dallas to play and this team will be way closer to a rebuilding roster than a championship one.
Danny (@DannyWebster21): Dirk has every right to, and I'm cool with him opting out. After this season, he deserves more than the $8 million he would've received had he opted in. The cap is going up and Dirk wants to get his money. I'm totally cool with it. Even if that means he leaves. It would be catastrophic for the Mavericks if he left, but it's a clear message to the Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson he doesn't want to be on another low-tier team in the Western Conference that gets bounced in five games in the first round. Last year was not the front office's fault, clearly, but this team showed Dallas has pieces in place to be a top-5 team with more talent. Dirk wants that, and the Mavs understand.
Do you think there's any chance Dirk actually leaves the Mavericks?
Josh: There's always a chance, but it's super low. Dirk is settled with two young children in Dallas now, moving is going to be a pain in the ass now -- but now Dirk at least has the ultimate ace card in his back pocket if Cuban tries to trot out another backup center as Dirk's starter this October.
Bailey: Yes. I really really don't think it is going to happen, but it is a possibility. Dirk is a competitor. And he's only got a year or two left (probably). He deserves more than carrying frustrating roster after frustrating roster to a frustrating first round loss every year. And yet, Dallas has been Dirk's home away from home for almost two decades here. He has deep ties to this organization and the greater DFW community. I can't picture Dirk anywhere else--hopefully (once he has put the fear of god in Mark Cuban), Dirk can't picture himself anywhere else either.
Doyle: There's always that possibility. But I just don't see it happening. He's played his whole career in Dallas. His family lives here. Heck, Dirk IS Dallas sports.(Sorry, Romo.) It would have to take something serious for him to leave.
Akshay: No way. Even after saying he's opting out, he basically made it clear he has every intention to return. I just can't see it.
Saad: I say 95% chance he stays, 5% chance he leaves.
Danny: I don't see Dirk leaving. He'd have every right to if Dallas fielded the same type of team as last year, but there's just no way. He's committed to the Mavericks and I'd presume vice-versa. Dirk has given his life and career to this organization. The Mavericks aren't in a position to rebuild, but Dallas also shouldn't be content on getting whomever they can get. Getting bounced in the first round again means Dallas has less than two months to come up with a full-out plan of attack. That starts with re-signing Chandler Parsons and at least attempting to get a foot in the door for a meeting with Kevin Durant (LOL) or Dwight Howard, then add depth to every position.
If he were to leave, which team(s) would you be okay with him going to? Which team(s) would you not be okay with him going to?
Josh: I'd be OK with Dirk playing virtually anywhere, even the Spurs because that'd probably mean another title for him. If I had a "preferred" destination I'd probably say Golden State, cause boy he'd be a fun sixth man there huh? The only teams I'd not be ok with is probably Miami because Dirk and Wade should never be teammates and Houston because, well, HOUSTON. Also Utah would be pretty funny.
Bailey: None. At all. Period. My heart will absolutely break every time I see Dirk in any jersey other than Dallas or Germany. And if I have to deal with that, I don't know that I will ever forgive Mark Cuban for what he has put Dirk through since 2011.
Doyle: I'd be okay with him going to the Knicks. I like them. Plus he could play along side Kristaps Porzingis. That's the pairing that NBA dreams are made of. But the Knicks aren't contenders so that scenario likely won't play out.
As for teams I would hate to see him on, there's really only one: the Spurs. Man, that would piss me off so much. Just think about all those insufferable, snooty Spurs fans cackling at us Mavs fans. "Your best player in franchise history left Dallas so he could win in San Antonio! HAHA! The Mavs are a joke. Go Spurs Go!" Ugh, that would be the worst. Then they'd ramble on about some nonsense about the culture of the team. They really are the worst. Yeah, Dirk can't become a Spur. It would kill me.
Akshay: Literally nowhere. I couldn't handle it.
Saad: I'm cool with him going wherever he feels he has the best chance to win a ring. After all these years, he deserves that.
Danny: It'd be fun to watch him on Golden State. Him, Steph and Klay would be so awesome to see. Dirk as a lethal sixth man on that squad would be nuts. Toronto would be cool, putting him back with Dwane Casey. The Raptors need a veteran presence like Dirk to teach those guys how to win. Put me down for the Clippers, Lakers, Rockets, Spurs as the teams I'd be sad to see him on.