Dirk Nowitzki: 'I belong to this city'

DALLAS – Dirk Nowitzki has made it clear that he can’t stomach the thought of finishing his career fighting just to make the playoffs.

That doesn’t mean he’s pondering ever putting on another NBA franchise’s uniform. He’s simply pointing out the importance of the front office making major roster upgrades this summer to give the Mavericks a chance to compete for championships again.

“Honestly, I can’t really see myself going anywhere else but here,” Nowitzki said at the beginning of his first playoff-free offseason since 2000. “Really, the pressure is on Mark (Cuban) and Donnie (Nelson) to get this franchise back to where it belongs, and they know that. Then we’re all good, everything’s fine.

“I mean, I belong to this city. That’s just the bottom line. I could never see myself playing for another franchise, putting another jersey on. That would be probably the hardest thing I’d have to do in my life. I want to stay here, but I also want to play at a high level with a good team that we can be proud of and represent this city and this franchise.”

Nowitzki, who intends to sign a two- or three-year deal when his current contract expires after next season, is willing to do anything he can to help the Mavs recruit free agents this summer.

Unlike most summers, he’ll be in Dallas instead of his native Germany the majority of the time. That’s largely because his wife, Jessica, is expecting the couple’s first child. However, Nowitzki said he planned to be in Dallas at the beginning of July for professional reasons anyway.

“It’s a big summer,” Nowitzki said. “I would have probably been here in July regardless to knock on Cuban’s bunker suite every other day and see what he’s got cooking.”

The ever optimistic Cuban recently noted that Nowitzki’s wife is much more attractive than him, so the future Hall of Famer must have some persuasive skills. Those will be tested in early July, with Nowitzki still holding out hope that he can help talk Chris Paul and/or Dwight Howard into leaving Los Angeles for Dallas – or at least help recruit more realistic talent upgrades.

“I can try, but I’m really not the most positive person,” Nowitzki said. “I guess that’s a German thing.”

Nowitzki can confidently talk in glowing terms about his experiences living in Dallas and playing for Cuban, Nelson and coach Rick Carlisle. Those three men would be a major part of Nowitzki’s basketball sales pitch.

“We have a great owner and a great GM in place. We have a great coach in place that coached us to win the championship,” Nowitzki said. “We’ve got a couple of veterans (Shawn Marion and Vince Carter) still under contract. We’ve got some veteran leadership already, and then we’ve got a lot of roster space.

“We’ve got some cap space and we can get some players in here that can help. I think all those three experienced guys, they’ve still got something left in the tank. Come on in, we’ll see how far we can ride it out.”

Nowitzki plans to ride it out in Dallas until he retires, which is at least three years away.