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Nowitzki is happy for Kobe, but his next contract will be different

Nov 26, 2013, 3:30 PM EDT

Philadelphia 76ers v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

He’s the face of the franchise and the heart of the team’s marketing, but also an aging veteran in the final year of a massive contract, one that will determine what and how the team can move forward the next couple of years.

Kobe Bryant? No.

We’re taking Dirk Nowitzki with the Dallas Mavericks.

But their situations are similar — Nowitzki is a star and the face of his team, and one in the last year of a massive contract ($22 million) that could hamper the team’s ability to bring in more players around him.

Nowitzki, however, plans to go a different route than Kobe and his massive new extension — Dirk will become a free agent then re-sign in Dallas, he told Jeff Caplan of

“Obviously, it’s good for Kobe,” said Nowitzki, who passed Garnett Monday for 14th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. “That’s a lot of money for a 35-year-old, but if one guy earned it, it’s definitely Kobe….

“I don’t really want to look forward too much,” Nowitzki said. “I’m not going to extend, obviously. I want to play the season out and then we can talk about the summer. I want to have a good season. I want to have an injury-free season and then [his coach/agent] Holger’s going to take his leather coat and meet with [Cuban] in the bunker suite and we’ll go from there.”

By becoming a free agent Nowitzki can take a lot less money with his next deal — if he wants to take $10 million (which is what Tim Duncan did in a smaller market than LA), he can. At that price the Mavs would have about $21 million on the books (if they renounce Shawn Marion and Vince Carter), which would allow them to make a run at some guys. Monta Ellis and Nowitzki are clicking this season. All of it together means Dallas has some flexibility.

How much flexibility the Lakers have with Kobe at $23.5 million next year depends on who you ask — they certainly have some (they could bring in a max player) but they could have had more. You can debate who they might have gotten or not, but they lost flexibility.  It’s their choice, Kobe and the Lakers knew what this deal meant, they still think it can work.

The situations are different in key ways — Kobe’s value to the Lakers brand is astronomical and keeping him at this price is still a value. Question the basketball decision if you want, but the Lakers needed to do this deal.

Nowitzki is a different personality in a situation with some similarities but plenty of differences. So he wants to handle this like Dirk. Not Kobe.

  1. ramrodmclean - Nov 26, 2013 at 3:48 PM

    Is Dirk happy that he got paid, or happy the deal will force the Lakers to surround Kobe with riff-raff? I guess they’re not mutually exclusive

    • 00maltliquor - Nov 26, 2013 at 6:29 PM

      Lakers are going to surround Kobe with Jody Highroller? Rap game Larry Bird?

      • ramrodmclean - Nov 26, 2013 at 8:20 PM

        Well played

    • pbtunpaidwriter - Nov 28, 2013 at 8:33 PM

      He’s happy Kobe got paid, which in turn means Kobe will play with riff raff, and probably none of that riff raff will be going his way.

      I love Dirk and Cuban, hopefully they can get a big name FA for once this summer.

  2. eugenesaxe1 - Nov 26, 2013 at 3:56 PM

    Classy guy.

  3. liamj55 - Nov 26, 2013 at 4:20 PM

    Dirk is the man –

  4. imthedudedude - Nov 26, 2013 at 4:22 PM

    I see the lakers having to do this deal but at the same time having to take almost half the payroll? Kobe should know how it works and taken 12-15 mil per year to allow some cap space for role players and specialists. Now it’s Kobe, maybe another star, and scrubs.

  5. 32magicman - Nov 26, 2013 at 4:34 PM

    Sounds like he wants another ring and is willing to sacrifice for it. Not all talk like Kobe.

    • xonxrocket - Nov 26, 2013 at 8:01 PM

      He should want another ring, he only has one.

  6. JHathwell - Nov 26, 2013 at 4:36 PM

    This is an apples to potatoes comparison anyhow. Dirk has proven himself to be past his prime.

    • savvybynature - Nov 26, 2013 at 8:29 PM

      And Kobe, coming off an achilles tear, is still in his prime? You delusional homers crack me up.

      • JHathwell - Nov 26, 2013 at 8:48 PM

        Nobody knows what Kobe is until he comes back. You angry, anti-Kobe maniacs crack me up.

      • savvybynature - Nov 26, 2013 at 11:32 PM

        Actually, yeah we kind of do. He’s capable of, at best, putting up the numbers he was putting up before he tore his achilles. Unless you think tearing your achilles will make him a better basketball player through some kind of Black Mamba magic, that’s what he’s capable of, that’s the ceiling.

        And guess what? Those weren’t his prime of career numbers (his prime was ’05-’08). So no, he isn’t in his prime nor will he magically return to his prime.

    • ybizzel - Nov 28, 2013 at 12:02 AM

      you sound foolish

      • JHathwell - Dec 1, 2013 at 5:36 PM

        You sound like a homer. Look up the numbers brother, they don’t lie. Career lows in almost every category, way less minutes, doesn’t rebound.

        He’s still a nice scorer but he peaked years ago, and his new contract will reflect that.

    • m3man - Nov 29, 2013 at 7:06 PM

      History has shown us that all 35 year olds are past their prime.

      Dirk missed half of last year with surgery. His career average is 22.6. His last 10 games? 22.1.
      Kobe can only hope for such a comeback.

      More importantly, Dirk is blending in superbly with new addition Monta Ellis, cheering as the youngster exceeds his scoring. Compare that to the way Kobe ran off future franchise player D Howard.

      Kobe is the greater superstar. Dirk is the better person and team mate. Kobe was blessed with 3 years of Shaq;s coattails, then with Pau, Bynum and Odum. Dirk won his ring with Jason Terry as his 2nd best team mate, and 100 year old Jason Kidd at the point.

      • JHathwell - Nov 29, 2013 at 10:22 PM

        This just reads like anger and bias. Dirk is having a decent scoring season (mostly thanks to the presence of Monta) but he’s basically a DH now. Doesn’t defend much, having his worst rebounding season since his rookie year and his minutes are close to his all-time low.

        And not to get in the way of your Anti-Kobe narrative or anything, but Andrew Bynum was barely a factor on those championship teams. Oh, and you left off Tyson Chandler, Marion and Barea off that list, not to mention the fact that the Mavs had the highest PAYROLL IN THE NBA that year.

        I mean, it’s always funny to watch people construct alternate realities for themselves and all, but it doesn’t make them true.

  7. antistratfordian - Nov 26, 2013 at 4:37 PM

    Dirk will do the right and honorable thing with his next contract. It’s really not fair to the fans to be 35+, injured, and way past your prime and want to be the highest paid player in the league. Lakers fans have given Kobe so much – even tolerating and defending his behavior that normally isn’t tolerated or defended by anyone – and 730 days of purgatory is how he repays them? Dirk won’t do the same thing.

  8. asimonetti88 - Nov 26, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    Dirk is a great player. I can’t stand Cuban but Dirk is a fun player to watch and one of the best players in the history of the NBA. Watching him beat the Heat was such an enjoyable series and well-deserved in terms of getting him the ring that his trophy case was missing.

    We’ll see if he takes less, but like Kobe, it’s his perogative to do whatever he wants. It’s his salary, not ours.

    • therealhtj - Nov 26, 2013 at 5:23 PM

      Other than the fact that Cuban wouldn’t pay him half what Kobe got, sure, Dirk has the privilege of doing whatever he wants.

    • antistratfordian - Nov 26, 2013 at 6:18 PM

      Nah. Morality often conflicts with prerogatives, obviously. It can be argued that it is not morally legitimate for an injured 35 year old player to accept that sort of salary when it conflicts with the basic duty to assist a franchise/fan base in immediate need.

      It’s even less legitimate when you become aware that this player had already made about $300 million in salary before this point.

      Dirk understands this.

  9. jbeagles23 - Nov 26, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    Kobe took a Jordan mentality. Himself before the team

  10. j0esixpack - Nov 26, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    Dirk obviously wants a championship more than another $10 or $20 million

    You gotta respect that as a fan.

    Kobe, coming off a major injury, may or may not be worth $24 million a year (let’s just say he is) – but the bottom line is he’s pretty much ensured he WON’T be getting another championship.

    To each his own. Dirk’s doing what other guys like Garnett and Ray Allen have chosen to do – take a major pay cut because they like to WIN more than they like money.

    Kobe is kindof keeping the Lakers in that never never land of basketball mediocrity, ensuring they won’t have enough money to win it all, nor will they be bad enough to start rebuilding.

    • xonxrocket - Nov 26, 2013 at 7:15 PM

      Garnett has not won a championship since taking a pay cut lol.

      Allen left the Celtics for a totally different reason than salary.

      • j0esixpack - Nov 27, 2013 at 6:44 PM

        It’s kindof tough to win a championship in November when your team has been playing for just 2 months.

        Aside from that minor detail, you’re correct.

        Enjoy “laughing out loud” – the rest of us are “laughing at you”

      • xonxrocket - Nov 27, 2013 at 7:18 PM

        Hey Joe, Garnett took a pay cut last year when he signed a 3 yr deal with the.Celtics. You really know nothing if you think the Nets as currently constructed will win a championship any time soon. LOl at your brain dead comment.

  11. pftbillsfan - Nov 26, 2013 at 6:24 PM

    Keeping Kobe at that price is still a value?????? In what world is that a throwaway line devoid of any thought or supporting argument. Any good player in LA will be a marketing magnet. A strong case can be made that Kibe has set the Lakers back 4 years, the next 2, and 2 bottom out years to create a new foundation. Dirk is classy, as is Duncan. Kobe is a all-time great but he screwed up on this one.

  12. xonxrocket - Nov 26, 2013 at 8:16 PM

    The thing with taking a pay cut is that it does not guarantee for a championship. Nor does it mean the front office will do the right things and be able to get the right pieces. It only worked in Miami with the “big 3”. Duncan almost did it but may be regretting he gave up so much only to see Pop give it to the likes of Splitter and Diaw.

    The big names of the 2014 free agent class are LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Dirk and Melo. I’m sure the Lakers has no interest in Wade. I don’t think Bosh actually deserves to be a max contract. Dirk ain’t going anywhere but Dallas. LeBron is a pipe dream, he’d probably head back to Cleveland than leave Miami. And Melo, I can’t understabd why they would want another shoot-first 30-something player.

    The real prize is in 2015 with Love and in 2016 with Westbrook.

  13. lucasblack12 - Nov 26, 2013 at 9:38 PM

    Kobe has the Michael Jordan mindset where he feels he is the best and deserves to be treated/paid like the best, in his defense if you read the deadspin article it says the lakers basically made an offer and he couldn’t refuse, there were no negotiations they showed him 48 million and he accepted… Who wouldn’t? Blame the lakers not Kobe guys!

  14. socalgal64 - Nov 27, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    Their situations are only similar on the surface. One has been to the Finals 7 times and won 5. The other has been to the Finals twice and won once. One has made his organization, and the NBA, billions of dollars in revenue. The other, not so much. I’ve got nothing against Dirk as he seems to be a good guy (even though his boss is Mark Cuban), but his contract should be different, and his trophy case/ring box show that difference.

  15. peddealer - Nov 27, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    00maltliquor, with Kobe’s contract all they can afford is Rap Game Bill Walton, Rap Game Larry Bird, Rap Game Dan Majerle Rap Game Jody Highroller… And off the Bench Rap Game James Franco Rap Game Justin Bieber…

    Also I was the ONLY person happy with the Monta signing! Everyone called me an idiot! Carlisle is the perfect coach to help him become efficient and work with Nowitzki, look at Terry and how much he changed and became a team player here..

    But why oh why do we not tank for a good pick, use the freed up $ to make a run at mid tier free agents… Build through the draft…

    If we make another title run, it’s with a defensive center, a big PG to dish and help out Monta( i hate Calderon btw) and keep it movin…

    Mark my words, Monta was a great signing for the $. And i guarantee he shoots 46-48% from 2 this season… 38-42% from 3

    Out best bet… Nowitzki 24/9/3
    Blair/Dalembert 13/11/2 blocks
    Ellis 22/5 assists / 1.5 steals
    Calderon 10/8/2/1
    Marion/Carter 16/12/4

    Any thoughts?

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