Dirk Nowitzki says he would be willing to transition to sixth man

DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki, a 13-time All-Star and the face of the Dallas Mavericks' franchise, would be willing to come off the bench if it's in the team's best interests next season.

One potential scenario would be Nowitzki transitioning to a sixth man role if the Mavs are successful in what sources say is their planned pursuit of Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, a Dallas native and perennial All-Star who will be a free agent this summer.

"Yeah, I mean, whatever it takes," Nowitzki said during the Mavs' exit interviews Wednesday. "I've always said that. My last two years I want to enjoy. I want to be a good team. I want to be on a winning team. Playoffs. Hopefully deep runs. So, yeah, anything I've got to do to help is obviously no question."

The 36-year-old Nowitzki, the 2011 Finals MVP and seventh-leading scorer in NBA history, has repeatedly proven that he's willing to sacrifice to maximize the Mavs' chances of competing for another championship.

Nowitzki, who has never had an agent, has negotiated hometown-discount deals on his last two contracts. He signed a four-year, $80 million deal in the summer of 2010, taking $16 million less than he would have made on a maximum contract. He took a significantly steeper discount last summer, signing a three-year, $25 million deal that gave the Mavs enough flexibility to sign small forward Chandler Parsons as a restricted free agent and attempt to recruit Aldridge or Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan this summer.

"With a guy of Dirk's character and level of loyalty and level of love for this franchise and this city, he's demonstrated pretty thoroughly that he's willing to make any sacrifice possible," coach Rick Carlisle said. "He's made great financial sacrifices to get the team better around him, so it doesn't surprise me that he said that [he is willing to become a sixth man].

"Is it possible? It's possible. Is it likely? I'm not sure about that. But the fact that you've got a guy who is basically an iconic player in this league willing to even talk about something like that is character just above and beyond the norm. It's just another reason why we're all privileged to have a chance to work with this guy."

Nowitzki's production slipped during his 17th NBA season, but he was still selected to the All-Star Game for the 13th time in 14 years. He averaged 17.3 points and 5.9 rebounds as the Mavs carefully managed his minutes (29.6 per game, the lowest since his rookie season).

The possibility of Nowitzki coming off the bench for the remainder of his golden years hasn't been a subject of much discussion within the Mavs, but it is in play as they make their plans to remodel the roster of a 50-win team this summer.

"As Dirk, we have the best interest of the Mavericks [in mind]," Dallas president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said. "If we feel it's in our best interest, whether it's acquiring a player, and Dirk is selfless enough to swallow that pill, then we'll make that decision from a coaching perspective with Rick and [owner Mark Cuban].

"Again, I'm almost speechless about what Dirk has done for this franchise and continues to do. It just doesn't cease to amaze me."

Nowitzki did express one practical concern about coming off the bench.

"I mean, the problem is there would some stiffness coming off the bench," Nowitzki said. "I'm usually not the most mobile, agile player, but there are bikes and stuff in the back that you can ride and get loose."