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Dirk Nowitzki: Playing 20 NBA seasons sounds ‘really, really great’

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Reports over the weekend indicated that Dirk Nowitzki intends to opt-in on the final year of his contract with the Dallas Mavericks, meaning the forward will return for the 2016-17 NBA campaign in what will be his 19th season. Comments Nowitzki made on Sunday, however, suggest he might be open to playing one more year beyond next season to round out his NBA career at 20.

Nowitzki will be in the final season of a two-year, $50 million deal he signed in 2016, a contract well below what he could have earned elsewhere that allowed the Mavericks to go out and pursue free agents.

“My goal was when I signed this three-year deal to fulfill that contract,” Nowitzki said during an interview on ESPN Radio’s “NBA Insiders” show. “And so if I play next year through, by that point I’ll be 39. To be honest, 20 years [in the NBA] would sound really, really great. And next year would obviously be my 19th year, so maybe after this next year I could sign on one more. But I’ll just have to wait and see, I think, at this point.”

Nowitizki stressed during the interview that he will of course consult his advisers and family and the like before committing to a 2oth season and that padding his statistics alone — playing another season beyond 2016-17 conceivably would allow him to crack the top-5 in all-time NBA scoring — won’t be taken into consideration, saying, “Stats is never really something I played for.”

The Mavericks (35-38) have dropped eight of 10 games and find themselves outside of the top eight teams in the Western Conference. A disheartening 133-111 loss to the Sacramento Kings Sunday has the team one-half game behind the Houston Rockets (36-38) for the West’s final playoff spot.

Should the Mavericks fail to reach the postseason, it will mark only the fourth time the Mavericks will miss the playoffs during Nowitzki’s career. The team will have to retool on the fly to presumably make a 20th season appealing to Nowitzki, but he seemed to indicate how he feels will be the ultimate determining factor.

“… But like I said, as long as I get up in the morning, it’s still fun [and] I don’t have to take a bunch of meds to play, I’ll probably play one more,” he said.