DALLAS -- Dallas Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson shared his mission Wednesday on his way to the airport bound for Germany and Dirk Nowitzki's doorstep for the start of free agency at 12:01 ET: "We're gonna get him."
Turns out Nelson didn't even need to board the plane to begin the chase.
As Nelson arrived at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport for his flight Wednesday, he received a call from Nowitzki's mentor Holger Geschwindner, who informed the Mavs president that he and Nowitzki were to travel to Dallas on Thursday. Upon their arrival, the three of them will meet at Nowitzki's home.
Nowitzki appears a lock to return to the Mavs under a new, four-year deal, but the club is taking no chances with its franchise player.
"This is our No. 1 objective," Nelson said. "Is it possible things wouldn't work out? Yes. But, with this there is no 'B' plan."
Nelson said Nowitzki recognizes that he's the first piece to the Mavs puzzle. Once the club has his commitment, it can then assure other players and owners that the Mavs' plan is in full motion. The sooner Nowitzki confirms, the sooner Nelson and the Mavericks can get back in the mix.
"There's no mix if there's no Dirk," Nelson said.
Nowitzki sent official notification to the Mavericks on Tuesday that he is opting out of the final year of his current contract, according to sources.
The move had been expected since an ESPN.com report in mid-May that Nowitzki planned to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. But Mavericks officials have remained confident that they will secure a verbal commitment from Nowitzki on a new four-year deal early in free agency.
The Mavericks have spent the last several weeks trying to convince Nowitzki to sign an extension that would keep him off the open market. But opting out provides him with multiple contractual benefits. One of them is the ability to incorporate a no-trade clause into a new deal, which can be secured only by players -- in a new contract, not an extension -- with at least eight years of service time and four with the same team.