Credit Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
With just nine games to go in one of the most difficult seasons of his career, Dirk Nowitzki gave his strongest indication yet that he plans to return to the Dallas Mavericks in 2018-19 for his 21st N.B.A. campaign.
“As of now, I’m planning to come back,” Nowitzki said in an interview with The New York Times this week. “I feel great. I’ve only missed one game all season. I signed a two-year contract because I wanted to play two more years. And here we are.”
An official decision on whether to invoke the 2018-19 player option on the two-year, $10 million contract he signed in July 2017 will not be made until the off-season. First, Nowitzki plans to step away from the game next month, huddle with his wife, Jessica, and his longtime German shooting coach and adviser, Holger Geschwindner, about the future, and undergo a thorough examination of his health.
But Nowitzki has suggested on numerous occasions this season that, despite Dallas’s struggles, he would like to play next season if his health cooperates. That would give Nowitzki sole possession of the N.B.A. record for the longest continuous run with the same team, passing Kobe Bryant, who played 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers.
At 22-51, Dallas is enduring first 50-loss season of Nowitzki’s career. Nowitzki led the Mavericks to the N.B.A. championship in 2011, and the team has posted a dozen 50-win seasons since acquiring him on draft night in 1998.
Although his movement has clearly been labored at times this season, Nowitzki continues to be an effective offensive player, despite operating almost exclusively as a center now after he was widely credited for changing the way the power forward position is played.