Dirk Speaks On The Mavs And A 'Dream World'
Maybe it is just the reflection off The Larry O'Brien Trophy, but even as Chandler is certain to depart Dallas (he's involved in a Warriors-vs.-Knicks bidding war) Nowitzki nevertheless offered a sunny view on the upcoming season. First came the handshakes; "Good afternoon, Mr. Fisher,'' and what a polite young man he is! Then the 33-year-old kiddingly acknowledged the team's veteran status ("Everybody knows we're old'') while also declaring complete faith in the direction of the franchise led by owner Mark Cuban and GM Donnie Nelson.
"Donnie has the knowledge and Cuban always has got some stuff (up his sleeve),'' said Dirk Nowitzki, who has worked with the front-office tandem in leading the Dallas Mavericks to 11 consecutive 50-win-plus seasons. "(Cuban) finds ways to get around the rules … We'll have to wait and see.''
It would take great creativity for the Mavs to simultaneously execute what seems to be Plan A and Plan B; that is, to retain the freed core of the championship roster of a year ago (Chandler) while also "keeping their powder dry'' in pursuit of 2012 free-agents-to-be Dwight Howard, Chris Paul or Deron Williams. But Nowitzki's comments suggest that the notion that the Mavs are satisfied with their title and now preparing for a downturn is unfounded.
More and more, though, it's become clear: Dallas' one-year-offers/sign-and-trade-tries is the real deal ... and it included a short-term Tyson and it includes a pursuit of Dwight and maybe more.
"We're going to start practice tomorrow and we don't even know what our team is,'' he said. "(But) whoever our team is, we're going to put a good product out there.''
Nowitzki also noted that he hasn't been in contact with the Dallas front office over the course of the summer, a side effect of the league's lockout-related ban on such communication. There will be those who take those Dirk's remarks as "sky-is-falling'' indicators. But Dirk is close to Cuban and Donnie and is acutely aware of the organization's overall direction.
"Donnie and Cubes, they're going to make the right decisions for this team," Nowitzki said. Nowitzki mentioned the tough decision faced by the Mavs as they attempt to balance present success with future promise. He said that no matter Chandler's future employer, "he will always be family. He will always be close to us.'' He is also especially tight with JJ Barea, the diminutive guard who seems destined to leave Dallas for greater offers. And Nowitzki seemed resigned to the money-related changes and even joked about the discounted deal (at $80 mil, $16 mil less than he was eligible for) he signed with Dallas last year, "I guess I didn't take less enough.''
But he perked up as he rattled off the names of teammates (including promising but oft-injured combo guard Roddy Beaubois, and I've got some exclusive stuff with Roddy B coming up) and when he mentioned cheerily that in his 13-year tenure in Dallas, "we've never really had cap space once.''
If that sounds like Dirk is aware Dallas is in wheeling-and-dealing mode – especially as the Mavs are slated to have just 10 experienced bodies in camp this weekend – he is.
Again, though, basking in the first championship in the franchise's 31-year history is near top-of-mind for Dirk, who was asked if it will be especially sweet on Christmas Day to open the season and see the championship banner raised in front of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the "villainous'' Miami Heat.
"Oh, it doesn't matter … it would be huge if we were to raise the banner vs. Milwaukee,'' he said. "It isn't about who is standing over there. It's about our fans and our team.''
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