<
>

Dirk Nowitzki dishes on big fish, big man

DALLAS -- Before Saturday's Game 4 finale, owner Mark Cuban suggested that there is no plan in place yet as to how the franchise will attack this summer. Of course it's been assumed that the Mavs, who Cuban has made sure will have cap space for the first time in his ownership, will go after a "big fish" free agent, as president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson has termed it.

And, of course, the only truly big fish is local lad Deron Williams.

Cuban said pursuing the "big fish" is not necessarily the case. Dirk Nowitzki, on Sunday during the team's exit interviews, certainly seemed to suggest that going deep-sea fishing is the goal come July 1.

"I don’t know what Mark and Donnie want to do or want to go after. I heard Mark say yesterday that he doesn’t really have a plan," Nowitzki said. "We’ll just have to wait and see, but usually I think that’s the goal, right? You have cap space so you can actually sign somebody decent. Hey, we’ll just have to wait and see and let this sink in."

Nowitzki, has two years left on the deal he signed prior to the 2010-11 season when he gave Cuban a hometown discount to be able to better pursue high-caliber free agents in his twilight years. He has said numerous times this season that he was disappointed that the team did not retain center Tyson Chandler but that he understood why Cuban made that decision.

After getting swept out of the playoffs for the first time in his dozen consecutive postseason appearances, Nowitzki sort of modified his take to reserve judgment until the summer to see if the Mavs indeed lured a "big fish." The 7-footer will enter his 15th year in the league next season and turns 34 in June.

"Concerned? Yeah, we need to get better. That’s my only concern," Nowitzki said. "As the Mavericks, usually we pride ourselves over the last decade not to play for the seventh seed or the eighth seed or just to make it into the playoffs. Our goal was always to be obviously one of the top four in the West, get home court and make a deep run. That was always our goal. It’s not just making it into the playoffs."

Nowitzki said landing a "big fish" is one goal, but that landing an agile, athletic center who can defend and rebound is key. Nowitzki said the blueprint was clear last season with Chandler. Those type of players don't grow on trees in this league and it won't be easy to fortify a front line around Nowitzki.

"My lateral movement ain’t the greatest, so to have a guy next to me that covers a lot of ground, that can guard on the perimeter as well as the post and block shots … Tyson was great at that last year," Nowitzki said. "It’s probably going to stay that way the rest of my career. My lateral movement probably ain’t improving from 34 to 36."