Easily lost amid the July hubbub of LeBron James returning to Cleveland and even Carmelo Anthony’s whirlwind free agency tour was Dirk Nowitzki’s dollars on the penny extension with the Dallas Mavericks. Maybe that’s because the only drama surrounding Nowitzki this summer was for how little he’d re-up with the Mavs – Nowitzki was adamant last offseason that he’d finish his career in Dallas, and likely at a discounted price. But the lack of surprise accompanying Nowitzki’s deal doesn’t make its terms any less astonishing, especially considering the quietly dominant season he had in 2013-2014.
Initial reports had Dirk agreeing with the Mavericks on a three-year, $30 million contract that seemed fair for both sides. Nowitzki certainly could’ve commanded more money given his status as an organizational icon and one of the several most valuable offensive players in basketball, but his insistence on a pay-cut deemed that deal appropriate.
It was only when the official numbers of his extension were announced – an exceedingly cheap $25 million over three seasons – that the public took a breath from LeBron and Carmelo to acknowledge Dirk’s selflessness and Dallas’ fortune. And when reports later surfaced that Nowitzki had standing, max-level offers from both the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers, it was a necessary reminder of just how impactful he remains in his basketball twilight despite being just one season removed from the worst play of his career.
This highlight video below of Dirk’s best from 2013-2014 is another helpful memorandum of his brilliance, too.
Nowitzki’s game is one of the most aesthetically pleasing in the NBA. You’re surprised every time he subtly fades back off one leg for his trademark fadeaway and misses. And you should be, too – Dirk somehow managed to make that incredibly difficult shot anything but last season.
Dirk had far and away the most made fadeaway shots last year. 104. Next closest was LeBron w/ 46. Dirk hit over 55% of them. Goodness.
— Kevin Ferrigan (@NBAcouchside) August 15, 2014
It was just a year ago that Nowitzki was considered a shell of his former MVP- and title- winning self, and the contract he signed in July would have been appropriate if he settled on the threshold below his career norm for the next three seasons. But Dirk bounced back in a huge way in 2013-2014, re-opening the Mavs’ championship window that many assumed was forever closed after more than a decade of healthy breeze.
So don’t be surprised if Nowitzki and the Mavs defy expectations again this season – or in the two afterwards – and make playoff noise come Spring. And while Dirk’s severely discounted contract helps make that a realistic possibility, it’s his typically awe-inspiring play that looms even larger.
(Video via NBA)
Is Dirk in for an even bigger season this year?
Follow Jack on Twitter at @ArmstrongWinter.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.