Sources told ESPN.com that Nowitzki's new contract, which was officially announced Tuesday, is actually a three-year deal worth a mere $25 million.
When Nowitzki agreed to the deal early in free agency, sources would only say that Nowitzki had accepted a three-year deal similar in structure to the last contract signed by San Antonio's Tim Duncan, which was a three-year, $30 million pact.
Sources say that Nowitzki received strong interest in free agency from the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Lakers to leave Dallas for max-level money but refused to engage in negotiations with either team.
Nowitzki consented to such a steep pay reduction -- from last season's $22.7 million to the roughly $8 million he'll get for this coming season -- to give the Mavericks added flexibility to strengthen the supporting cast around him.
Dallas used the resultant cap space, in conjunction with Chandler Parsons' agent Dan Fegan, to create a lucrative three-year offer sheet to the restricted free agent that the Rockets ultimately decided they couldn't match.
The Mavericks signed Parsons to a three-year offer sheet worth in excess of $45 million with a player option after Year 2 and a 15-percent trade kicker attached. The Rockets elected to let Parsons join Dallas on Sunday, but only after sources say they promised Chris Bosh that they would have kept Parsons had Bosh elected to sign with Houston.
Yet Nowitzki's sacrifice means that Parsons will essentially be making $7 million more than the Mavericks' face of the franchise this coming season.
Nowitzki's deal also has a player option to return to free agency after the 2015-16 season and preserves his rare no-trade clause. NBA players can only secure a no-trade clause in their contracts after spending more than eight seasons in the league and at least four seasons consecutively with the same team.
Only four players in the NBA last season had formal no-trade clauses written into their contracts: Nowitzki, Duncan, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett. Even though Garnett's no-trade clause was granted by the Boston Celtics in his last contract with them, it transferred to Brooklyn last summer when Garnett agreed to be dealt to the Nets along with Paul Pierce.
Nowitzki also took less money than he could have in his previous contract, signing a four-year deal worth $80 million when he was eligible to receive $96 million. The Mavericks won the first championship in franchise history in the first year of that contract.
"[Cuban] knows I don't want to go anywhere and he doesn't want me to go anywhere," Nowitzki recently told ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. "We're guessing that will be over pretty quick and then we can focus on making this franchise even better.
"This deal is not going to be about squeezing out the last dollar. We'll just have to wait and see what the years and the final number is, but I'm sure it will be respectable for both sides."