Disappointed Nowitzki may test market

SAN ANTONIO -- Dirk Nowitzki's return to the Dallas Mavericks is no slam dunk. He could join the superstar-loaded free agency class this summer.

Nowitzki had never left much doubt that he'd stay in Dallas until the Mavericks' season ended Thursday night with a 97-87 Game 6 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. He can opt out of his contract this summer, which he indicated he would consider after the Mavericks exited in the first round for the third time in four seasons.

"I don't know, this is all pretty fresh," Nowitzki said during his exit interview Friday afternoon. "I just have to keep my options open at this point, see what's going on. I have to get over this disappointment for awhile. I'll probably drown my sorrows for a bit and then I'll start thinking about stuff like that in a week or two. As of now, I just want to keep my options, see what happens."

Asked Friday what type of player he believed the Mavs needed to pursue next season to improve, Nowitzki said he'd like an explosive scorer who can create his own shot. He named two, in particular.

"You'd love to get somebody that can be explosive off the dribble, can create his own shot at any given time," Nowitzki said. "Obviously, there are a couple out there -- LeBron, D-Wade -- one of those guys. A wing player that can create his own shot, score at will."

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban declined to answer questions via e-mail Thursday night about Nowitzki's comments.

Nowitzki, who would make $21.5 million next season if he doesn't opt out of his contract, has said on several occasions that winning a championship wouldn't be as meaningful if he did it with a team other than the Mavericks. He's played his entire 12-season career in Dallas, serving as the cornerstone of a franchise that is one of only four in NBA history to have 10 consecutive 50-win seasons.

However, the Mavericks are the only franchise in that group that didn't win multiple championships.

The Mavericks blew a golden opportunity to win a title in 2006, when they failed to win another game after jumping out to a 2-0 lead over the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. Since then, the Mavericks' only playoff series win came in the first round against the injury-ravaged Spurs last season.

"As much as I'm disappointed for the team and for Mark [Cuban] and for myself, I'm even more disappointed for Dirk, because a lot of this was about trying to get him to a point where he could realize the dream," coach Rick Carlisle said. "The window is still open, but this is a tough blow."

Tim MacMahon covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.