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Analysis: Dirk Nowitzki left $194 million on the table during NBA career

Dallas Mavericks icon Dirk Nowitzki will play a 20th NBA season after agreeing to a team-friendly two-year, $10 million deal last week. Suffice to say, the contract is well below Nowitzki’s market value, even if the 39-year-old’s impact has diminished in the twilight of his career, although he does remain a solid and productive player.

However, the notion that Nowitzki didn’t get as much as he arguably deserved with his latest contract is simply more of the same for the German superstar. To wit: An analysis by Business Insider suggests that Nowitzki may have left upwards of nearly $200 million on the table during three contract negotiations with the Mavericks.

In 2006, Nowitzki still had two years remaining on his original rookie extension when he agreed to another extension worth $59 million over three years. If he had not taken that deal, he would have been eligible in 2008 for a six-year, $158 million max contract as a 10-year veteran, which would have come before the NBA started to curb salaries in 2011.

If we assume Nowitzki would not have opted out of the max deal early, his next contract would have come in 2014 and he would have been eligible for a five-year, $239 million max contract through the 2018-19 season. Instead, Nowitzki signed a three-year, $25 million contract in 2014, a one-year $25 million deal in 2016, and the latest contract that runs through 2018-19.

Those two max contracts would have pushed Nowitzki’s career earnings to $446 million by the end of the 2018-19 season, $194 million more than his actual career earnings ($252 million).

Nowitzki has demonstrated incredible loyalty to Mark Cuban and the Mavs organization throughout a career that will one day send him to the Hall of Fame. Some have criticized Nowitzki for it, with Cuban being the primary financial benefactor of his loyalty.

Others will suggest Nowitzki did right by himself, as the sacrifices made — at least at one point — arguably helped the Mavericks win a title in 2011.

However one looks at it, though, one thing is certain: While $252 million is a big chunk of change, the fact that Nowitzki may have left $194 million on the table is utterly mind-boggling.

[The Dallas News]

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