Dirk Nowitzki Wants To Finish Career With Mavericks
by Dwain Price
SALT LAKE CITY — Dirk Nowitzki said he’s never asked to be traded and would like to spend the rest of his career with the Dallas Mavericks.
After Monday morning’s shoot around at the Energy Solutions Arena, Nowitzki said he plans to stick with whatever decisions Mavs management makes as they attempt to turn around a season that has the Mavs floundering with a 13-21 record.
“I never said I was going to be traded,’’ Nowitzki said. “What I’ve said numerous of times that you have two options. “We tried to sign [Deron Williams last summer], and we didn’t sign him, so we have two options.
“We either trade everybody and start over, or we bring in a bunch of one-year deals -- which we did -- and try to be a player next summer and, that’s what we went for.
“And we’re going through that now with eight new guys, and it’s a little ugly at times. But we’ve got to fight through it.’’
With the Mavs losing 11 of their past 13 games, it has been one of the most difficult and frustrating periods of Nowitzki’s 14-year career. Especially when the Mavs would have to flip a switch and get cranking in the right direction just to have any chance of extending their streak of advancing to the playoffs to 13 years in a row.
Nowitzki, meanwhile, has seen the long faces inside and outside the locker room.
“It’s a lot of losing, and people are on the edge,’’ Nowitzki said. “Obviously more coaches and the management and the players, and so the whole atmosphere is obviously not fun to be around.
“It’s not supposed to when you’re losing, so you’ve got to keep on pushing.’’
The Mavs, who released forward Chris Douglas-Roberts on Sunday, will try and stem the tide at 8 tonight when they play the Utah Jazz. But it won’t be easy, particularly since the Jazz defeated the Mavs, 113-94, on Oct. 31.
In the meantime, Nowitzki has only been back for seven games as he still tries to get his conditioning intact after he underwent arthroscopic right knee surgery on Oct. 19.
“I’m frustrated that I missed two months, and I’m not quite there yet where I can close those games out, which I should, especially the New Orleans game,’’ Nowitzki said. “I’m just not quite there yet, so the whole situation is just frustrating.
“Obviously when we put this team together in the offseason and we got Darren [Collison] and we got [Chris] Kaman, we didn’t think I was going to miss two months.’’
In other words, Nowitzki believes had he been healthy on opening day, the Mavs wouldn’t be having issues wondering if they’re going to even make the playoffs this season.
“I think if I was healthy all season we’d still play right and we would have won a couple of more [games] and be basically hopefully right around .500 and we’d still be fighting for the eighth spot,’’ Nowitzki said. “But me missing two months kind of put us behind the eight ball.’’
The Mavs, who are closing in on signing guard Mike James to a 10-day contract, have been all over the map in terms of collecting more than their share of losses.
They are 0-7 in overtime games and also have lost another eight games by 20 or more points.
“We’ve been in games, which we couldn’t say all season,’’ Nowitzki said. “I think we have the most 20-point losses of any team in the league, which is obviously not good.
“But I think we’ve turned it around a little bit. We took OKC to overtime, we took Miami to overtime, and the other day we lose a game [to New Orleans] in overtime at home.’’
Nowitzki, however, knows that basketball is a results game. Losing close games don’t count.
“I think we’re competing -- we’re right there. We’ve just got find a way to win those games.
“We need to be a little smarter down the stretch, not to turn the ball over, take good shots, and get some big stops, big rebounds down the stretch. All the little things that help you win games down the stretch.’’
With 48 games remaining in the season, Nowitzki knows there’s plenty of time left for the Mavs to get on a roll.
“I’m obviously pushing and trying to get better, trying to do stuff after practice like I always do, and shoot and get to the point where I can take games over down the stretch, then I’m sure we’ll win our fair share,’’ Nowitzki said. “I’m going to keep pushing -- that’s the only way I know.
“I never quit. I’m [going to] keep pushing and get back to the level where I was at the end of last year when my knee was right. I’m starting to play better again and that’s where I want to get ultimately here, and hopefully soon.’’