Ball in Dirk's Court, Answer Saturday?

Mavs wait for Nowitzki to respond to offer

By JAIME ARON
|  Saturday, Jul 3, 2010  |  Updated 10:06 AM CDT
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Dallas Mavericks forward, #41 Dirk Nowitzki.

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Dirk Nowitzki now knows how much he's worth to the Dallas Mavericks. Whether it's enough remains to be seen.

Mavericks president Donnie Nelson said he made a "significant" contract offer to Nowitzki's adviser during a meeting Friday. Nowitzki could respond as soon as Saturday, when the sides are expected to meet again.

"Everything is going in a positive direction," Nelson said. "The communication and common intent is there. Now it's just a matter of Dirk getting comfortable with everything and sleeping on it. This is just a normal negotiation."

Nelson is cautiously optimistic that the franchise's all-time leading scorer and rebounder will be back to extend his records. The most Nowitzki could re-sign for is $96 million over four years. He also could get a no-trade clause.

"We're not celebrating yet, not doing back flips," Nelson said.

Nowitzki opted out of the final year of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time. However, he's given the Mavs the first shot at keeping him.

Nelson was going to fly to Germany for their first get-together, but Nowitzki and adviser Holger Geschwindner offered to come to Dallas. They detoured through New York before arriving late Thursday night. The initial meeting Friday included only Nelson and Geschwindner.

"It was our first opportunity to really sit down and go through everything," Nelson said. "It was a very productive, meaningful meeting. I think we're looking forward to tomorrow."

The 2007 NBA MVP has spent his entire career in Dallas. He's led the Mavericks to 10 straight 50-win seasons, but has yet to win a championship. The closest he's come was a 2-0 lead in the 2006 NBA finals. The club has won only one playoff series since.

The Mavs would like to secure Nowitzki, then use his return to try wooing other free agents. Dallas can only add players through sign-and-trade deals, but has assembled many desirable pieces to prepare for such a move. Losing Nowitzki would mean a whole new plan for the summer, and for the future of a club that's been in win-now mode in hopes of maximizing Nowitzki's prime years.

Nelson said he's hoping Nowitzki accepts soon, but he's most concerned with him simply accepting.

"That's his decision," Nelson said. "Only he knows the timing. ... Stay tuned."

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