Dirk Nowitzki said a week ago he would gather information regarding the Mavs summer-of-2016 plan and how that plan meshes with his own contractual options.
"I'm thinking,'' he said, "about what the future will bring."
And now he knows more -- and so do the Mavs, as Dirk has officially opted out of his existing deal (first noted by Marc Stein). This is huge news, and figures to be good news, on a number of levels. ... even with a team like the Warriors wishing to poach the all-time Mavs icon.
Dirk had previously announced - in a surprise - that he would exercise his option by the late-June deadline, allowing him to be a free agent on July 1. That never meant he was leaving the Mavericks; but it did put their salary-cap options in limbo and it did create the appearance that he wanted to pressure management to do more to build a true contender in his twilight years.
That "threat" still exists, in theory. Indeed, when I hear Dirk say, "I've got to help myself a little bit'' (as he does here), I am confident that he is insinuating that he will continue to be willing to be involved in the "shared sacrifice" as long as teammates are also sacrificing ... And as long as the teammates who are getting paid more than he is are good enough to earn that honor.
The opt out erases the existing $8.6-mil deal for now. (If he stays at the $8.6 mil? Here are the Mavs' $92-million worth of roster-building tools.) But it can be a greater amount. It can be a smaller amount. And if he and team executive Donnie Nelson and owner Mark Cuban do this right and do it together, it can provide the Mavs more room to give Dirk more help.
An important recent Dirk quote:
What did Dirk learn when he held his meetings with management? Likely all about the team's thoughts on Kevin Durant as we write here, on Dwight Howard as we write here, and on Mike Conley as we write here, and on Hassan Whiteside, as we write here, with the free-agent shopping window set to open on July 1. Dirk is actually on-record as saying he'll help Chandler Parsons as a chief recruiter in free agency -- a sign that not only is Nowitzki staying, but that Parsons and the Mavs plan on staying together as well. (Yes, even with CP also choosing not to exercise his option.for another year to enter free agency.)
That doesn't mean there isn't some thin ice here. Dirk doesn't want to be part of intentional tanking, and his opt out could be construed as a "threat'' of sorts to the other pillars of this franchise to do their jobs as well as he does his.
My belief is that Cuban, Donnie, coach Rick Carlisle and Dirk are in this together. He wants to be in Dallas and he wants to win in Dallas. (Want to see the most clever contractual trick on how to do Dirk in Dallas? Read David Lord's exclusive here.) The opt-out can, if all parties do this properly, be the start of being here and winning here.