Bay Area maven Tim Kawakami says that the Warriors plan on pursuing Dirk Nowitzki this summer, and holy crap, would that move be great for everyone.
The fit is obvious for Golden State. Dirk would be an excellent short-term sixth man they could sign without sacrificing any flexibility in reconfiguring their roster long-term. If paired in lineups with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green he’d create likely the greatest offensive in NBA history even if the fifth player was Marcia Brady.
There’s quite a precedent for older Hall of Fame big men spending their twilights collecting a final ring or two on a newer contender. Bill Walton had easily his third best season as a Celtic in 1986, and Bob McAdoo spent his final years during that same era as a Laker. Hell, Shaq spent his last few years as a hired gun. There’s major precedent for this.
Dirk has to be sick of playing with different players every season, but nobody wants to commit to Dallas. Mark Cuban is going to keep trying and failing to sign a superstar, and while Rick Carlisle could drag the muppets into the playoffs, getting knocked out in Round 1 can’t be how Nowitzki imagined spending his golden years. The Warriors offer him a chance to finish his career with some dignity. Nobody would blame him for not spending his entire career with one team. We’d all understand. He’d still be a Maverick forever.
And Dallas needs to goddamn tank. Mark Cuban has openly discussed how horrible it is to be stuck in the middle, but as long as Dirk is around that’s where they’ll be. They have too much respect for him as a player not to put veterans around him, but he’s too old for those veterans to be good enough to take them very far. They can’t tank with him but they can’t build a true contender either.
If the Mavericks are ever going to rebuild, now’s the time to do it. The 2017 NBA Draft is loaded and there are very few teams actively trying to tank. If that’s the approach Dallas decides to take, it would be enormously easy for them to wind up in the top-three next year simply due to the lack of competition. And hey, here’s the bonus: starting next season, the Mavericks are pick neutral for the first time in over a decade. They finally have all of their first round picks at their disposal. They could tank like a normal team, no harm, no foul.
The only thing holding any of this back would be loyalty. Dirk has insisted that he wants to finish his career in Dallas and Mark Cuban has been happy to let him do so. But for the first time there’s a better alternative for all sides involved. So please Mark Cuban, tell Dirk to go win another ring. Tell him that it would best for himself and for the Mavericks to just cut the cord and move on. He could still come back and retire as a Maverick afterwards, but heading to the Warriors next season makes too much sense to pass up.