The Mavericks haven't been told for sure yet whether Dirk Nowitzki will opt out of the final year of his contract, but whether he does or doesn't has no impact on the team's ability to retain Nowitkzi -- or to sign other potential free agents.
"Whether he opts out or not, it doesn't effect anything as far as what we can do and plan to do,'' said president Donnie Nelson. "Nothing has changed.''
Nowitzki has until July 1 to opt out and become an unrestricted free agent. His situation is clearly the priority for the franchise, which still is reeling from the first-round exit in the playoffs against San Antonio and would like nothing more than to have something like Nowitzki's situation flush away those memories and turn fans' attention to keeping the franchise's all-time leading scorer.
The feeling among the Mavericks' brass is that Nowitzki probably will opt out at some point. This could benefit Nowitzki for three reasons.
First, it prevents him from being included in any sign and trade.
Second, it allows the Mavericks to sign him for somewhat less money than he would have gotten, money that perhaps can be spent on another player.
Third, it allows Dirk to get a contract that could go out four years and not be subject to possible future cuts when the collective bargaining agreement is redone. Extensions, which wouldn't kick in until 2011, could be impacted by the new labor agreement.
A source also said that Nowitzki opting out is probable because it would allow him to work with the team on the structure of a new deal, rather than simply taking a three-year maximum extension. It could also allow Nowitzki to have a no-trade clause inserted into his new contract.