Dirk Nowitzki never wanted a retirement tour this year, and now comes an indication that he would consider returning for a 22nd season, even as he is being saluted in arenas across the country.
Belief around the NBA was that Nowitzki, 40, was wrapping up his career with the Dallas Mavericks. Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers got on the public-address microphone at Staples Center in the waning moments of a game Monday, imploring fans to give Nowitzki a salute.
But on the heels of some better play this week and now that he is finally moving better following ankle surgery last spring, Nowitzki said Wednesday night that a return to the Mavericks is not out of the question.
“I don’t know,” Nowitzki told reporters after the victory over the Indiana Pacers, when asked if he is considering playing with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis next season. “I haven’t really thought about it. I would love to be there for the young guys one more year, but I think it depends on how the body feels. I’ve had issues obviously this year. I had some knee swelling here the last few weeks, actually before the All-Star break, so it’s not all great. But like I said, I am feeling better. I am feeling stronger.”
Nowitzki has played in just 30 games this season, scoring 5.5 points per game. However, he has started each of the past three games, scoring in double digits in each of them. Nowitzki did not have a 20-minute game all season until the past three games.
Nowitzki has averaged 20.9 points per game over a career that has earned him 14 trips to the NBA All-Star Game — 11 consecutive during a stretch — and an appearance in the game this year. Nowitzki led the Mavs to their only championship in 2011 and was named Finals MVP.
“I think I’m going to make that (retirement) decision later on, but I think the future’s bright,” Nowitzki said. “I think Luka and (Porzingis), if they stay healthy, stay together, they should be a great combo. They should play great off each other. Both have an incredible skill set for their size, incredible playmaking ability for their size. They should jell well, but we have to see how it goes next year.”
—Field Level Media