Here are some highlights:
Objects are closer than they appear
The San Antonio Spurs started to figure out what the Mavs wanted to do as their first-round series progressed. A very valid argument can be made that the Mavs were the Spurs’ toughest foe during their championship run in the playoffs.
“Maybe we’ll take some of the credit that we got them hot,” Nowitzki said. “We got them playing well. It was a good series, but Game 7 was a little disappointing.”
The Mavs probably shouldn’t expect a letter of thanks from the Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat in the near future, but Nowitzki thinks that the series showed there’s a foundation to build off of going forward, as they try to become legitimate contenders in the West.
“I think we feel that we’re not that far off,” Nowitzki said. “I feel like that with Jose [Calderon] and [Monta] Ellis, who had a phenomenal year for us, they really stabilized our backcourt. Moving away from the year where we had eight one-year deals, we moved away from that and brought some stability in. Those guys were great running the show for us.
“You can always get better. No argument there. It’s a big summer again for us, but I really like the stuff that we did.”
Hitting the ground running
The offseason started the first full week of May, but Nowitzki’s time for rest is essentially over, meaning his work toward next season already has begun. He’s using the past as a learning experience in regard to his offseason conditioning regimen.
“I learned pretty much the hard way that after we won the championship that when you’re older that you can’t do anything for a month or two months and then just start up, because then it takes you a good two or three months to fully get back to 100 percent in shape,” Nowitzki said. “I learned that the hard way.
“Now, what I do is go in about three or four times a week, just get a little workout in, cardio in, some lifting in. I haven’t shot the ball since Game 7. You just have to keep a certain level of fitness in so by the time I do start working out with [mentor Holger Geschwindner] in Germany, probably July or August, that the entry won't be hard at all."
It hasn’t been all work and no play for Nowitzki, though. He took about a week off after the Mavs were eliminated from the playoffs and found a nice beach. With a vacation behind him, he’s spent nearly a month getting back into a groove as he heads toward ramping up his workouts to include actual basketball activities with Geschwindner.
“It’ll be pretty smooth the first week. The shooting will be a little off. But with the fitness there, the shooting will come back pretty quick," he said. "If you’re completely out of shape and start shooting, then everything is really ugly and it takes forever.
“I’ve just been keeping a certain fitness level going, and I feel good doing it.”
Speaking of Geschwindner, he’ll be in town, likely in his trademark leather jacket, to help negotiate Nowitzki’s next deal with owner Mark Cuban. Based on past results, Geschwindner has done a great job getting a lot of money for his pupil. Nowitzki also knows Cuban has had his back throughout his career as part of the franchise.
“We all know that Cuban took care of me for a long time. He was loyal to me,” Nowitzki said. “This deal is not going to be about squeezing out the last dollar. This is about being respected as a player that I still am, and that’s about it. There’s nothing more that we’re trying to squeeze out. We’ll just have to wait and see what the years and the final number are. I’m sure it’ll be very respectable for both sides.”
With all of that in mind and his contract being a domino that must fall during Dallas’ free-agency process, is it imperative to get a deal done in a timely manner?
“We’ll get together pretty quick,” Nowitzki continued. “Cuban knows I don’t want to go anywhere, and he doesn’t want me to go anywhere. We’re guessing that’s going to be over pretty quick and we can focus on making this franchise even better. You can always get more athletic, [a] defender, more shooting in. You can always get a big guy that can finish. I think there’s room to improve in a lot of areas.
“I’m looking to get my deal done pretty quickly and look forward to making this franchise even better.”
Nowitzki has started his sales pitch to expected free-agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony. Nowitzki already has stated he would love to have Anthony on board. Sources told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein that the Mavs, Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets are teams Anthony would consider as destinations, should he hit the open market.
“I was actually surprised that the Mavericks are one of [the teams he’d consider],” Nowitzki said. “I think if a great player is looking to switch organizations, you’ve got to have all eyes and ears open. We’re always looking to get better. You’ve obviously got to take a hard look at a great player who is, offensively, a top three or four player in this league. He can score with the best of them.
“If that’s really an option for him, the Mavericks definitely have to take a hard look and see if that’s something that makes sense.”
Adding Anthony to the dynamic duo of Nowitzki and Ellis would cause some headaches for the opposition on the offensive end of the floor. Honestly, it’s likely going to add some headaches for Mavs coach Rick Carlisle in terms of defense, but that’s a problem for another day. The combination of Nowitzki and Ellis was lethal. The combination of Nowitzki and Anthony could be even more dangerous. Nowitzki isn’t concerned about the idea of having so many scorers on the floor at the same time with only one basketball.
“A lot has been made of if I can play with him or whatever,” Nowitzki said. “I can play with anybody in this league. I’ve showed that over my 16 years. I can adjust to pretty much just anyone. I don’t think that should be a big problem. If he’s willing to come here, I think Mark and [president of basketball operations] Donnie [Nelson] take a hard look at it.”