Recently, Dirk Nowitzki made a blanket statement, saying that NBA players aren’t loyal anymore in an appearance on ESPN’s “The Jump”.
However, it appears that he will not follow the recent trend. Entering his 20th NBA season, Nowitzki has not only made more in terms of salary earnings than any other player in league history, but he’s spent every year as a member of the Dallas Mavericks.
And, under one condition, this might not be his final season in the league.
"If I miss another 30 to 40 games in a row, then obviously, it's not meant to be,” Nowitzki told Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News. "But if I can stay sort of healthy like I did at the end of the season, when I thought I moved OK and had some good games, then maybe we'll do two more [seasons]. But we'll see how it goes.”
Last season, Nowitzki was limited to just 54 regular-season games for the rebuilding Mavs and averaged just 14.2 points in 26.4 minutes per contest, the lowest marks in each category since his rookie campaign.
But, it appears as though he’s not taking any days off this offseason in the hopes of maintaining his health throughout the upcoming season.
"It's been a long summer, way too long," he said. "I've been busting my butt trying to get ready, get in game shape. I've progressed well, and I'm looking forward to camp and play some of those new guys… I don't anticipate any problems, but you know, at 39, I guess anything is possible.”
Since he saw a decrease in minutes last season and the organization is preparing for a new era after his retirement, Nowitzki’s role is very much in question moving forward.
"I have no idea, really," he said of his role. "Obviously, we're pleased to have Nerlens [Noel] back at the five with his athleticism. We got a lot of bigs now, with [Josh] McRoberts hopefully healthy and playing, and Jeff Withey, who showed he can play and he's more athletic than you think. And Salah [Mejri] wants his minutes as a shot blocker. And I still think the game is going smaller. Harrison [Barnes] is going to see a lot of minutes at the four.”
Therefore, while Nowitzki will likely continue to start (as he has in 1,363 of his 1,394 career regular-season contests and all 145 of his playoff appearances) he might find his role diminished as a new slew of young players headlined by Dennis Smith Jr. receive their chance to prove they can take over where he eventually leaves off as the face of the franchise.