The Plan Behind Dirk Nowitzki Opting Out

Jan 13, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) reacts to a play while sitting on the bench against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 13, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) reacts to a play while sitting on the bench against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports /

News broke on Monday morning that Dirk Nowitzki intends to opt out of his final year of his current contract, but what is the plan behind it all?

NBA fans, and more notably Mavericks fans, witnessed another historic season from Dirk Nowitzki as he finished his 18th year in the NBA. The Big German finished the season averaging 18 points and 6 rebounds a game…all at the age of 37. Even with Nowitzki still playing at a high level, retirement talk still circles his name as one of the greatest to ever play the game is in the last stage of his career.

So when will he hang them up?

Nowitzki has been pretty vocal from the beginning of the season all the way to the exit interviews after the team lost to OKC in the first round of the playoffs; he intends to fulfill the three-year deal he signed two years ago.

Dirk entered free agency two years ago with reported max offer sheets on the table from multiple teams, but instead of skipping town and signing a max deal in another city, Dirk remained in Dallas on a friendly three-year deal worth around $24 million and a player option for the last year. That set Dirk up to make EIGHT million dollars a year in what many would call one of the best bargains in the whole league.

Now Dirk has finished two of those years and announced this morning that he is changing his plans of fulfilling this current three-year deal and instead will opt out of the final year of his deal. Dirk Nowitzki will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, joining both Chandler Parsons and Deron Williams on the free agent market.

Dirk said this in his radio interview this morning on 1310 The Ticket:

“We’re going to sit with Mark and Donnie obviously over the next few weeks and figure out how to improve this franchise again. Ever since after the championship, we’ve been basically a first-round exit. We’ve been a seven, eight seed. We’ve only won a few playoff games, and obviously the goal was to compete at the highest level in my last couple of years, so there is some moving to do, some thinking, some putting our heads together the next few weeks heading into free agency, heading into the draft. So this is just one move that hopefully starts a chain reaction for us to get better again, to compete really at a high level. We’ll see how it goes.”

To me, Dirk deciding to opt out this summer means one word: FLEXIBILITY.

Nowitzki has made it pretty clear that he has no intentions on leaving the Dallas Mavericks. He loves the city of Dallas and quite frankly, if he wanted to leave Dallas for greener pastures, he could have done it plenty of times before. It’s all about having flexibility this offseason when chasing free agents.

With Nowitzki, Parsons, and Williams all opting out, this will put the Mavs with around $50 million dollars in cap space with a lot of roster spaces to fill. The Mavericks could create another $1.5 million by declining to pick up JaVale McGee‘s second year.

Dallas will enter the offseason with only Wesley Matthews, J.J. Barea, Devin Harris, Justin Anderson, Salah Mejri, and Jeremy Evans under contract.

With Chandler Parsons likely headed for a max contract, Dallas needs all the flexibility they can get if they try to recruit in another big fish with Parsons, maybe even Dwight Howard, as Parsons hinted at in his exit interview. Dallas needs the cap space and Dirk Nowitzki just gave them some more dollars to throw around.

Even though it was going to be another HUGE bargain, Dirk was on the books for $8.6 million dollars for next season, a number that can now fluctuate given the situation. This news by Dirk shows me that our legend here in Dallas is once again willing to take another pay cut for the franchise to bring in another star. Something that Dallas doesn’t deserve, but something Dirk is willing to do.

To my understanding, this could be Dirk sitting back and watching what the front office can make happen. Then with the remaining cap, work out a two-year deal with another option on the second year. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Dallas spends the majority of their money on Parsons and a Howard type, only to turn around and see Nowitzki re-sign for around $5 million a year.

More from The Smoking Cuban

Don’t forget about the possibility of a trade also. By creating this massive amount of cap space, this does open up room to bring in a player that can absorb a lot of the cap space to where you wouldn’t have to make the salaries match. Even though DeMarcus Cousins is probably untouchable for what Dallas has to offer, a situation like that is something to keep an eye on.

I in no way see this as an option for Dirk Nowitzki to leave Dallas or for Nowitzki to put pressure on the front office to make something happen. I consider Dirk a part of the front office as much Carlisle is as they approach the offseason looking to form a competitive team.

Just view this as Dirk walking away from a table full of food so the rest of the family can eat, only to come back later for the leftovers. Now the only problem is finding a big name to sit at their table and eat the food.