German international Dirk Nowitzki has sent the official letter notifying the Dallas Mavericks that he will be opting out of the final year of his contract. Currently residing in Germany, Nowitzki had to fax the official letter in addition to mailing it to beat the Wednesday deadline.
Nowitzki has become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career following a disappointing exit in the playoffs, losing to the San Antonio Spurs 4-2. Mid May was the first time it was reported that Nowitzki was leaning towards becoming a free agent.
The Mavericks are confident that they will be able to sign Nowitzki to a new four-year deal this offseason. They can begin negotiating with Dirk Thursday morning at 12:01 a.m. The league has a moratorium on roster moves until July 8. That is when teams can finalize contracts, and begin to make changes to their rosters.
Donnie Nelson, the team’s president of basketball operations, says he is prepared to travel to Germany if it means signing Nowitzki. No one knows for sure where the former all-star will be at the beginning of free agency, but he will be one of the most sought-after free agents in this year’s class that includes LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh.
The forward was scheduled to make 21.5 million dollars next year on his salary, but opting out means he is now eligible to receive a maximum of 96 million in a four-year deal. The Mavericks cannot give him a longer deal because of the NBA’s over-36 rule that states that no player can earn maximum salary if they will turn 36 before the deal expires.
By opting out of his contract, Nowitzki now earns the right to place a no-trade clause in his new deal that he earned in his eight years of NBA service, and four with the Mavericks.
Kobe Bryant is the only player in the league with an active no-trade clause, and Nowitzki looks to become the second player with that provision. Sources have reported that the Mavericks have tried very hard to convince James to sign with the Mavericks as a part of a sign-and-trade deal.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are not interested in a sign-and-trade deal, and maintain they are trying to sign James outright. The Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls have been rumored as the top choices for Lebron to sign with.
Point guard Jason Kidd is confident that the Mavericks and Nowitzki will reach a deal, and says Dirk will probably relish in the free-agent market for a while before signing with the team.
“Sometimes as a player you want to feel wanted,” Kidd said last week. “He’s always felt wanted here, but maybe this could be some weird way of being appreciated by other teams. There’s nothing wrong with that because he’s probably one of the top five free agents or top four, top three. He’s good.”
NBA sportsbooks have set the Mavericks as the underdogs to sign LeBron at 40/1 odds. Cleveland is the current favorite at 5/7, and the New York Knicks come in a close second at 5/2.