Karl Malone. Larry Bird. Reggie Miller. What do these three players have in common? They all played on one team their entire career, and if Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki has his way, he also wants to finish in the city where his career started but should he?
Without a shadow of a doubt, Dirk Nowitzki is a future hall of famer. He is a previous MVP winner, a one-time NBA champion, has led his team to the finals twice and is quite possibly could be the most diverse big man to ever play the game. He also has career averages of 22.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 47.6 percent shooting, 38 percent three-point shooting and has a 87.9 percent free throw shooting average. It is also admirable how loyal he is to owner Mark Cuban by wanting to stay all these years, especially the past few where the team has been lost in the middle of the pack or worse, like last year when they completely missed the playoffs.
This is why Dirk Nowitzki should consider switching teams for his last year or two. The Mavericks are not bad this season, and they have improved significantly since last season where they had a .500 record. Having said that, Germany’s best player is wasting away his final couple of seasons. His current squad is a team that can put together a decent record that will most likely make the playoffs, but the truth is they just don’t have it to beat a team like the Clippers, Thunder or Spurs in a seven-game series.
When the Dallas Mavericks were at their best they had Dirk, Terry, Chandler, Kidd, Marion and had one of the deepest benches in league history. Nowadays, they only have two of those players, Marion who has been completely unreliable and Nowitzki who while consistent, has put up better numbers. As a result, Dirk does not have it in him anymore to lead a team, especially with the squad he has, which seemingly has no consistent guys on the team night after night.
The German as a result would be better off going to a team where he is the second or third option. Obviously for it to be enticing to Nowitzki, he should not be going to just any team. The Mavericks are not terrible, but he should want to be on a team that can contend.
As for teams that can contend in the next year or two, it pretty much leaves him with the Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Rockets, Heat, Pacers and Bulls. Some may argue that the Nets and Knicks (with them acquiring Phil Jackson) have a chance, but it is a fallacy and would bring the big man to a similar situation to what he is experiencing in Dallas — a playoff team with no championship hopes.
Now in terms of the teams mentioned, there are a few that are an impossibility for Dirk. Spurs, Clippers and Thunder. Why? They already have starting power forwards in Tim Duncan, Blake Griffin and Serge Ibaka. Sure, one could make the argument that Dirk Nowitzki should slip into a center position or a very large small forward position if he wants another championship run, but most likely he does not want to and would prefer to finish in Dallas if that is the case.
Nowitzki is one of the premier power forwards in the league; however, considering how much he is been paid through the years, it is doubtful he would look for money primarily. In other words, teams like the Heat and Rockets who have spent a lot on players over the last few years probably would still be able to sign him. The problem though with the Rockets is it might bring a clash of personalities and not enough touches to players like Harden and Howard, the latter especially since he is known for being mouthy when he does not have the ball. The Heat on the other hand could land Dirk, but only if they do not sign Bosh, which is possible. However, it is hard to envision Dirk landing on a team that was his number one rival when on the Mavericks. As a result, he will not go there either.
This of course leaves the Pacers and Bulls. The biggest problem for both of these teams lies in their offensive game. Dirk Nowitzki on the other hand is one of the best shooters in the league, and as a result could be a shot in the arm to either ball club’s offensive game.
The Pacers of course currently have David West as their starting power forward. He is a great player, especially on the defensive end. The question with Dirk being brought on is if the Pacers would be willing to trade West or change Dirk’s position, despite the German most likely not wanting to. If Nowitzki would decide to leave the Mavericks and has an interest in the championship-contending Pacers, the deciding factor could be if they are willing to part with West or give him a diminished role. If they do choose to bring in Dirk, he could be the one piece of the puzzle they need in that of a consistent scorer.
As for the Bulls, they are probably in the best position to land Nowitzki if he truly wants to leave the Mavericks. It is no secret that Chicago is most likely planning on moving Carlos Boozer at the end of the season. Why? His numbers are down and he has always been a defensive liability; most importantly, they can use the amnesty clause on him to clear the contract off their books forever. Much like Indiana, the German will play the same role for the Bulls in being that go-to offensive player that the Bulls desperately need, especially considering they are dead last in ppg.
At the end of the day, when it comes to the future hall of famer possibly leaving the Dallas Mavericks, it is going to come down to two things: Does he want to leave and is it that important for him to have another championship? Additionally, would he even go to the Eastern Conference? Dirk Nowitzki wants to finish his career in Dallas, and he will be forever admired for it but should probably choose to leave if he wants another championship. Reason being? At the end of the day the Mavericks will not win a championship in the next couple of years unless they get lucky.
Commentary by Simon Mounsey