With his 20th NBA season nearing its end, it’s fair to wonder if Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki might be playing in his final NBA games.
According to Nowitzki, though, retirement is not in the present plan.
“As of now, I’m planning to come back,” Nowitzki said per Marc Stein of The New York Times. “I feel great. I’ve only missed one game all season. I signed a two-year contract because I wanted to play two more years. And here we are.”
Stein did note that Nowitzki will need to talk with other people, including his wife, before any final decisions are made.
Nowitzki signed a two-year deal with Dallas — the only NBA franchise he’s ever played for — in the offseason.
Nowitzki is obviously not the player that he once ways. That said, he’s still effective. Entering Tuesday’s game against the Sacramento Kings, he is averaging 12.2 points and 5.6 rebounds a game while shooting 46 percent from the field, 41.9 percent on threes, and 90.4 percent from the free throw line. Additionally, as he noted, he’s played in nearly every game this season. That’s especially noteworthy when we remember that he played in only 54 games a season ago.
While the Mavs have generally contended during Nowitzki’s career, the last two seasons have been notable exceptions. Dallas missed the playoffs a season ago and has long been eliminated from playoff contention in 2018. That said, Nowitzki noted early in the year that the Mavericks success (or lack thereof) in the 2017-18 season would not alter his decision.
Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant are already the only two players in NBA history to play 20 years with one team. Should Nowitzki return for the 2018-19 season, he would be the longest tenured player for any one team in NBA history.