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Nowitzki says he wants to play a couple years past this contract

Feb 25, 2013, 12:07 PM EDT

Mavericks' Nowitzki reacts after officials did not call Lakers' World Peace for a foul during their NBA basketball game in Dallas, Texas Reuters

At age 34 and coming off knee surgery during training camp, Dirk Nowitzki has taken a step back this season. He’s averaging 16 points a game and is shooting 43.5 percent, both his lowest since his rookie season.

He’s got one more season on his contract after this one, so at age 36 will he want to come back to the grind of the NBA?

Yes, yes he would. That’s what he told the Dallas Morning News (thanks to our old friend Matt Moore at Eye on Basketball for finding this).

“I had some doubts here when I came back,” Nowitzki said. “It took so long. Is it ever going to come back? It was a tough stretch for me coming back from the surgery. But the way I feel now, I still think I can play a couple of years.

“I’ve got this year and next year under contract, so I’ll be 36 and for sure play a couple of more years.”

As long as Nowitzki wants to play in the league, the Mavs will have a roster spot for him. He likely will take the Tim Duncan/Kevin Garnett pay cut to stay (Nowitzki makes $22.7 million next season) but a deal can be worked out.

Although it’s not as simple for Mark Cuban, who has the Mavericks with a lot of cap space the next couple years as he hunts for the next superstar to come to Dallas. Apparently someone to play alongside Nowitzki at first and eventually take over the mantle of the team.

Would Nowitzki really want to be a 40-year-old role player next to a younger star?

“Yeah, I mean, we’ll see how it goes,” he said. “Like I said, when my contract’s up, I’ll definitely sign a couple more years. It’s still fun, but I don’t know if I’ll play until 40. But [I’ll] definitely sign one more deal, maybe two or three years.

Okay, we’ll hold off on the plans for the gold watch and jersey retirement for a while.

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