More Dirk Nowitzki through 2015-16?

DALLAS -- While delivering the disappointing news that he probably won't play until mid-December, Dirk Nowitzki dropped a nugget that should be encouraging for Dallas Mavericks fans: He fully intends to continue playing after his current contract expires at the end of next season.

Nowitzki indicated Tuesday that he'd like to play at least through the 2015-16 season.

"I'm hoping maybe after these two years to play a couple more years," Nowitzki said, "so it would be the wrong thing now to push it and come back too early and maybe make something worse for the long term."

That's as revealing as Nowitzki, 34, has been about his future beyond this contract. He often has said that he'd make the decision on whether to continue his career based on how his body feels, but the desire is clearly there.

Barring a change of heart, there's little question that Nowitzki will remain with the Mavericks until he retires from the NBA.

Ideally, Nowitzki would be part of a supporting cast, and not the franchise's centerpiece, during his next contract. Other than team options on the current rookie class's contracts, the Mavs have nothing on the salary cap's books for the 2014-15 season.