The Truth About Dirk's 'Opt-Out' From The Mavs, In 5 Simple Steps
by Mike Fisher    Sun, May 23, 2010, 09:54 AM

    Dirk Nowitzki’s Mavs status has not changed.

   The Mavs position on Dirk Nowitzki’s free agency has not changed.

   The headlines are bigger, the groans are louder, the misunderstanding is greater ... but there is no change.

    There is clarification – mostly on the benefits of Dirk opting out of his existing contract and then re-upping in Dallas in a way that pays him more and also saves owner Mark Cuban more – but that is all there is.

   We break down the story of the possibility of Dirk opting out of his final $21.5-million year to become a Summer of 2010 free agent in five simple items:

 

   ITEM 1: What we wrote on Tuesday, May 18: "Unfortunately for us, the ink was barely dry on our article (darn that optimism!) when Cuban announced that Dirk might wait to see what would happen in free agency in order to figure out what kind of deal he wanted with the Mavs. We don’t know exactly what the conversations were behind that statement, but it broadly hinted at a disturbing development: rather than sign an extension before free agency, Dirk was going to opt out of his contract and make his decision later."
   What hadn't happened at that point - and still hasn't happened - is any actual movement. And extension talks were said to be continuing. We termed it a “disturbing development’’ then. We stand by that.

   Dirk and the Mavs were considering him going free on May 18. They are still considering the same possibilities.

   So nothing has really changed … yet.

    ITEM 2: And why is it disturbing? Because any time you have the opportunity to move from a 99.9-percent chance of having a deal done down to a 100-percent chance of having a deal done, that 0.1-percent chance invites unsavory possibilities. You’ve gone from zero chance of a problem to a 0.1-percent chance of a problem. And because Dirk is the foundation of what this team is and the foundation of what it hopes to accomplish this summer, that is a 0.1-percent disturbance.

   ITEM 3: But also unchanged is what we wrote all the way back on Friday, May 14, in our one-on-one visit with Mavs GM Donnie Nelson

    “Dirk is deserving of every possible thing the Dallas Mavericks can give him,’’ Nelson tells DallasBasketball.com. “Dirk’s stay in Dallas is a very special situation. He represents this team and this community in all the highest possible ways.  He is as deserving as a player can possibly be. … Our opinion and our belief is that all signs point to Dirk Nowitzki staying in Dallas. This is a funny business. Lightning can strike. You learn to expect the unexpected. But from an ownership level on down, do we plan on Dirk being a Maverick for a long, long time? Yes. Absolutely.’’

    Now let’s go to the ESPN-gathered Donnie quotes in Marc Stein’s breaking story:

    "We're going to do everything we possibly can to make sure Dirk is a Maverick for a long, long time," Nelson added, describing team management as "hopeful, optimistic and expectant" about reaching terms with Nowitzki on a new deal. "It's impossible for us to imagine Dirk in any other uniform," said Nelson. … "I think his heart is in Dallas. You learn to never say never in this business, but from our perspective we will be doing everything possible to keep him right here."

     It is with no disrespect of the great work of our friend Marc Stein that we point out that his Donnie Nelson quotes published on Saturday mirror the Donnie Nelson quotes we published a week ago.

    So once again, nothing has changed.

   ITEM 4: Now, here is where Stein’s reporting has advanced the story:

   If Nowitzki opts out and signs a new deal, his contract will be cemented in under the rules of the existing CBA. So his new deal can be worth up to four years (remember The Over-36 Rule) and worth $96.2 million. (That’s $3 mil more than he can get from any other team, by the way.)

    However, Stein reports, if Dirk attaches a three-year extension onto the existing one-year pact, he can be exposed to “potential after-the-fact reductions to his annual wage if league owners are successful in their attempts to lower the value of maximum salaries in the next collective bargaining agreement.’’

    Additionally, a new contract allows Nowitzki to include a “no-trade clause’’ into his deal – something he cannot do by simply tacking on an extension to an existing deal.

     ITEM 5: When Mark Cuban initially mentioned Dirk opting out in a radio interview two weeks ago, we were not clear on his meaning.

    We are now.

    Here’s the quote from The Ticket:

    "Well, I can see the circumstances where he would opt out but not necessarily leave the franchise. ... Dirk told me that if he can help the team get better, he would sign a different deal. So we made the decision to see what was going to be out there and how things played out and work together."

    The meaning: Depending how the new CBA and salary cap is structured, a “max contract’’ signed in the future might total fewer dollars than a max contract signed now.

     So put it all together and Voila!

     Dirk waits … and he gets his no-trade clause and he gets his four-year guaranteed deal and he get more money than he can get elsewhere and he gets to remain with the Mavs … and he even gets to save his owner a few million bucks. … all contingent, of course, on Dallas being able to get him help – an issue we covered back on May 13 in “The UberMan Ultimatum.’’ 

    Clearer facts from those involved. Louder groans from those who don't understand. But otherwise ... nothing has changed.

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