Glad to see the Mavs finally lock him up. Now we need to do the same with Howard.
By EDDIE SEFKO / The Dallas Morning News
Dirk Nowitzki's hectic off-season ended with a bang when he signed a three-year contract extension Tuesday.
The nearly $60 million extension, which was agreed to in principle shortly after the NBA Finals, was signed by all parties, owner Mark Cuban said. The agreement will kick in for the 2008-09 season and ensures that the 7-foot star remains with the Mavericks until 2011, when he will be 33 and have completed 13 seasons.
"We are glad to keep Dirk in the Mavericks family for many more years," Cuban said. "His contribution to our success on and off the court has been immeasurable."
The extension is believed to be worth $59.38 million, based on the maximum 10.5 percent raise per year Nowitzki is allowed after his current contract's final season. That will be worth $16.360 million in 2007-08.
Nowitzki has been playing under a contract he signed in 2001 that was worth roughly $80 million over six years.
Nowitzki is scheduled to arrive from his home in Wurzburg, Germany, on Friday. The Mavericks begin two-a-day practices Tuesday in Denton.
Shortly after the NBA Finals, Nowitzki said it was a no-brainer that he would sign the extension before training camp.
Since then, he has called out Cuban for his overexuberance during the Finals, led the German national team to a respectable showing in the world championships and, now, signed one of the off-season's richest contract extensions – a clear sign that the Mavericks are confident Nowitzki can be the cornerstone of a title team.
Nowitzki has established himself as one of the top players in the league. He averaged 26.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists last season and is working on a string of six consecutive seasons of averaging at least 21 points.
In the playoffs, he averaged 27 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists.
Nowitzki's deal puts him in elite company. The highest-paid players for this season are Minnesota's Kevin Garnett ($21 million), Philadelphia's Chris Webber ($20.7 million), San Antonio's Michael Finley ($20.2 million from San Antonio and Dallas) and Miami's Shaquille O'Neal ($20 million).
Nowitzki's extension means the Mavericks have only one nagging contract issue in front of them. Josh Howard is entering the final season of his rookie contract and has until late October to get an extension in place. If there is no deal by then, he would become a restricted free agent next summer. The Mavericks would have the right to match any offer he is given by another team.
Even if the Mavericks don't re-sign Howard, they have said repeatedly they intend to lock him up long term next summer at the latest.