Dirk Exit Day: Respect On Way To Mavs $ Room

Dirk is the fourth corner on 'The Triangle Of Trust.' He understands what Dallas is trying to (re-)build. 'I'm pretty sure I'm not going to sign Kobe's deal, unfortunately,' the free agent joked Monday at Exit Interview Day. But we can tell you about the steps toward Nowitzki getting what he wants. It begins with the Mavs' renouncing his Bird Rights.

Dirk Nowitzki's cap hold, until he signs or is renounced, is $23.86 million. If the Dallas Mavericks were to retain his Bird Rights and not renounce him, they'd only have about $7 million in summer cap room instead of the $31 million they are planning on (as detailed here).

And so ... Dirk will be "renounced.'' Which sounds like an awful, scary thing.

But Nowitzki will be back with the Mavs in 2014-15 and beyond. There are a few provisions he's hoping for with his new deal. But these aren't going to be problematic negotiations ... just ones that require patience.

"We'll find a good way where I feel respected for what I did and where we still have enough money left for us to get great players in here," Nowitzki said Monday. "Cubes has been great to me, has been loyal to me for a long, long time. I'm sure we're going to find a great solution for everybody."

"Respect.'' That means no "veteran's minimum'' for the man who remains this team's best player and -- despite Dallas' best efforts to upgrade -- could remain just that over the course of the next two years or so.

But that "respect'' is volleyed back to Cuban, Donnie and Carlisle -- "The Triangle of Trust'' -- in such a way that Dirk knows asking for Kobe's $24-mil-a-year deal would be crippling to the Mavs franchise.

Dirk has no intention of crippling the franchise he loves.
"I have no idea honestly what it will be right now," Nowitzki said of the exact dollar figure. "But like I said, Donnie and Mark were talking to me planning this summer and we'll figure something out."

What they will first figure out is how best to attempt to spend that $31 million -- and that doing so is more about luring fresh new talent into town than it is "keeping The Boys In Blue together.'' And then, after whatever new talent is secured, a "respectable leftover'' -- $10 mil a year? -- is earmarked for Dirk.

Nowitzki's four-year, $80-million contract expires on July 1. He could likely command that sort of annual salary again if he wished. But like Tim Duncan of the Spurs -- a player and franchise he respects very much -- you can bet he sees the wisdom of their $10-mil-a-year arrangement.

All involved need to take time to breathe. Soon enough, Dirk will return to twice-a-week weight training ("As you get older, you need to do more of that, not less,'' he said). He will take a family trip to Europe, go backpacking and spend some time "on a beach.'' But his homebase will be Dallas and as much as every he will serve in his capacity of "unofficial assistant GM'' at Mavs HQ.

The Triangle of Trust knows how fortunate it is to have Dirk as its fourth corner.

"Obviously, Dirk's not going anywhere,'' GM Donnie said Monday. "He's built this franchise. He's been with us from day one. Certainly, there's negotiations to take place, but he loves this city and he wants to call it his home. We certainly reciprocate those feelings, so our hope is we'll get something done that's not only in Dirk's best but also affects the flexibility of the future of the Mavericks."

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