So the big German’s gonna do it, huh? The ever-loyal Dirk Nowitzki, he whom many would dub “the greatest European player of all-time,” will apparently be leaving the only NBA home he’s ever known to test the free-agent waters this summer, opting out of his contract with the Dallas Mavericks.
Not that anyone asked, but damn right, BallinEurope has an opinion on the subject of the baddest Mav’s prospective new freedom. Heck, i’ve been mulling this one over at least since i caught the PTI guys kicking around the concept.
After BiE spent several hours trying to figure out the whole salary-cap/luxury-tax/mid-level exception stuff as firmly as humanly possible, Dirk’s choice may now be simply reduced to four likely possibilities. In determining these golden opportunities, the beginning premise is that Nowitzki in fact wants to leave; at least once source claims it “likely” that “this is just a blip on the radar of free agency and he will end up with a new Dallas contract.”
If Nowitzki does want to leave, BiE assumes he’s got about three motivations for doing so; in no particular order, these would be:
1. winning a championship;
2. winning a championship; and
3. winning a championship sooner rather than later.
With this in mind, BallinEurope would recommend the following options for Dirk.
• The Phoenix Suns. Surely BiE is not the first to think of the concept of reuniting Steve Nash with Nowitzki, right? With the smart money reckoning that Amar’e Stoudamire and his “max-9 cap hold” are gone when free-agency season opens, not only will the Suns need another big body who can run, they should also have some cap room to play with.
Supposing the Suns don’t make it past the Los Angeles Lakers, the team still concludes the season a top-four team certainly mighty attractive to any player willing to run the floor. And the addition of Nowitzki might also woo another piece or two that would certainly scare the Western Conference in 2010-11.
• The Boston Celtics. If this is at all financially possible, BiE just doesn’t understand why Boston media isn’t running with it – Is it the preposterous $6 million-plus due Rasheed Wallace?
Sure, a roster holding three contracts of $18.8 million or more (Nowitzki can draw a maximum of just over $20 million; Paul Pierce could get $21.5 mil in 2010-11, Garnett gets nearly $19 mil) is pretty scary on the surface of it, but thus far the Celtics bear “only” $66 mil in salary for the upcoming season.
Assuming that the Orlando Magic remain a threat in the Eastern Conference as Dwight Howard becomes more dominant a force in the paint, wouldn’t the still-spry Nowitzki and his nice range open up the middle against the would-be Superman? And wouldn’t Nowitzki be able to keep up Rajon Rondo’s pace more effectively than the aging Garnett? (Nowitzki played 37.5 minutes a game in 81 games this season; Garnett played 29.9 mpg in 69 games.)
Can’t tell you how much it pains a Laker fan to imagine Nowitzki wearing that green and white … Right, next!
• Wherever Lebron James goes. Another easy one, right? When pressed for his kneejerk choice, Wilbon first went with the Cleveland Cavaliers, should King James re-signs. This supposition makes sense, firstly because Cleveland would essentially be getting a large upgrade on the similar skill set of Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who seems like an obvious departure.
James and Nowitzki: What a tandem, eh? Until you start to consider the verbal shellacking Lebron took as his Cavs folded like a deck chair against the Celtics; and despite Nowitzki’s solid play in about a zillion games for the Mavericks through the last decade plus, that next level seems rarely to manifest outside FIBA events for Dirk.
See, despite the fact that Dirk has been the undisputed leader of the Mavericks’ success throughout the 2000s, it’s now nearly taken for granted that he’ll be the no. 2 option on his next team.
Really? After improving in every statistical category except rebounding (and there only losing about 0.7 per game)?
Really. After egregiously exiting the playoffs again.
Kinda like LeBron and his guys.
On paper, the James-Nowitzki tandem indeed looks great but who would be surprised to look into the crystal ball at 2015-16 or so, only to see both ringless still?
• Olympiacos. Just kidding. But if you don’t think the Angelopoulous Brothers aren’t at least toying with the notion of cobbling together an offer, you’re probably underestimating the Red bosses’ enthusiasm. Here’s to thinking that, given the number of free agents and the ostensibly limited money among NBA franchises, Olympiacos manages to land at least one stunner in 2010-11. Ever *been* to Greece, Dirk…?