The Dallas Mavericks have informed Dirk Nowitzki that they will decline their $25 million team option for next season with the intention of signing the face of their franchise to a new contract, according to league sources.
The Mavericks have a Thursday deadline to notify the league of their intentions regarding the second season of the two-year, $50 million contract Nowitzki signed last July.
But sources told ESPN that the club will work with Nowitzki next month to structure a new deal to his liking. A two-year deal is an option being strongly considered, sources said, despite the fact Nowitzki has made it clear that he wants to make decisions on a season-by-season basis at this stage of his career.
The Mavericks' plan, according to one source, is to do "what Dirk wants." Nowitzki turned 39 last week and is poised to tie Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant for the longest run in league history -- 20 seasons -- playing for only one team.
The Mavericks are coming off a 33-49 campaign, their worst since the 1997-98 season that set them up to acquire Nowitzki via a draft-night trade with Milwaukee for the No. 9 overall pick in June 1998. Dallas never fully recovered from a 4-17 start that saw Nowitzki hampered by an Achilles injury, but the former league and NBA Finals MVP eventually overcame the injury to cross the historic 30,000-point threshold and rise to No. 6 on the league's all-time scoring charts by season's end.
ESPN reported Saturday that re-signing restricted free-agent center Nerlens Noel and solidifying the team's young core of Harrison Barnes, Seth Curry, Noel and newly drafted Dennis Smith Jr. are the Mavericks' offseason priorities. Sources say that Dallas, as it stands, does not have plans to pursue marquee free agents, despite a long-rumored interest in New Orleans Pelicans unrestricted free agent Jrue Holiday.
When the Mavericks' season ended, Nowitzki made it clear he's comfortable with the direction of the franchise despite the apparent long road Dallas faces to return to contention in the Western Conference, re-iterating yet again that he has no intention of playing for anyone else as he enters historic season No. 20.
"At the end of the day, I just can't imagine myself in a different uniform," Nowitzki said in April. "If we're rebuilding, then I'm the face of that."
Last season marked Dallas' first with a losing record in Mark Cuban's 17 full seasons as Mavericks owner. The Mavericks have missed the playoffs twice in the past five seasons after 11 consecutive 50-win campaigns. They haven't won a playoff series since Nowitzki led them to the first championship in team history in 2011.