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Report: Dirk Nowitzki to opt out of Mavericks contract

Dirk Nowitzki

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) celebrates scoring a 3-point basket during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Sunday March 20, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)


Dirk Nowitzki has said and re-said and re-said he’d opt into the final year of his contract.

But maybe not?

Dwain Price of the Star-Telegram:

Nowitzki plans to opt out of the last year of his current contract

I’d be absolutely shocked if this about leaving the Mavericks. If Nowitzki is opting out, it’s probably to re-sign on more favorable terms.

But what’s more favorable to Nowitzki? A higher salary? Additional years? A lower salary that would allow Dallas to acquire more support around him? After all, he already took a big pay cut for that reason on this contract.

Nowitzki’s salary if he opts in would be $8,692,184. If he opts out, he’d count $12,500,001 against the cap until signed or renounced. If he’s renounced, the Mavericks couldn’t use Bird Rights to exceed the cap to sign him. So, Nowitzki opting out would increase Dallas’ cap room only if he’s willing to take a lower salary. There’s no way to work the cap for additional room and give Nowitzki his original salary.

If Nowitzki wants a big raise, he could command one. The salary cap is skyrocketing, and his salary is low even by old-cap standards. The 37-year-old is still Dallas’ best player.

That’s also an age where many players sacrifice to win a title, and Nowitzki has shown a willingness to do so. Accepting a lower salary could help the Mavericks sign another player. If Dallas strikes out in free agency, Nowitzki could always re-sign for more than the minimum he was willing to accept.

Opting out would give Nowitzki options, but we’re left with a big question: What are his priorities?