Nowitzki, Mavs head into yet another uncertain offseason
DALLAS (AP) Dirk Nowitzki took less money to make sure Chandler Parsons could join him in Dallas. Now the superstar is willing to take a seat on the bench if it will help end a four-year run without a playoff series victory since the franchise's first championship.
The Mavericks are headed into another uncertain offseason after losing to Houston in five games in the first round. They're likely to end up with 11 free agents if leading scorer Monta Ellis and others opt out of contracts as expected.
Whether Nowitzki becomes a sixth man in his 18th season will depend largely on Dallas' ability to attract big names in a free agent class that will include hometown product LaMarcus Aldridge of Portland and Houston native DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers.
''He's made great financial sacrifices to get the team better around him, so it doesn't surprise me that he said that,'' coach Rick Carlisle said Wednesday, a day after the Game 5 loss to the Rockets. ''Is it possible? It's possible. Is it likely? I'm not sure about that.''
The Mavericks hoped they were putting another young fixture alongside Parsons when they traded for Rajon Rondo in December. But the point guard who won a title in Boston and made another trip to the NBA Finals clashed with Carlisle before essentially getting banished two games into the Houston series.
There might have been another overhaul of the roster coming anyway. But it could be the biggest one yet, with Rondo certain to sign elsewhere and Ellis not fitting the profile of the face of a franchise after becoming the first top scorer not named Nowitzki in Dallas since 2000.
''It just didn't work out for both sides. And both sides need to move on now,'' Nowitzki said of the Rondo deal while also expressing hope that Ellis will return. ''What that moving on thing is, we don't know yet. We just have to stay tuned and get ready for a busy summer.''
Dallas has been spurned by big names in free agency, including Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony, since owner Mark Cuban chose financial flexibility over keeping his title team together in 2011.
Tyson Chandler, one of the pieces that got away, came back in an offseason trade with the New York Knicks last year. So did J.J. Barea after Minnesota dumped him.
But they never found the chemistry that was so important when they won title. The offense was flawed with Rondo running it, and Dallas rarely had its entire rotation healthy after adding Amare Stoudemire when the Knicks turned him loose in February.
The biggest blow was losing Parsons late in the season to a right knee injury. He tried to come back in Game 1 against his former team in Houston, but was shut down after that. Now he's facing offseason surgery, but still plans on aggressively recruiting free agents.
''I'm officially shifting into GM mode,'' said Parsons, who signed a three-year, $46 million offer sheet that Houston wouldn't match last summer. ''I have great relationships with a lot of guys that are out there. I have a great relationship with a lot of guys that are currently on our team. So as a guy that will be here for a while and as one of the key guys going forward, I will definitely be talking to management.''
Chandler still believes a winner can be built by the trio of Cuban, Carlisle and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, who pledged his support for the coach by saying Wednesday that Carlisle ''can be in Dallas as long as he wants to be.''
''I think that this organization definitely has the potential, has the blueprint, been there, seen it, done it before,'' the center said. ''It's just about getting the right pieces in. Everything is difficult when you don't have the right pieces. You get the right pieces, anything could happen.''
There's no telling what those pieces will be at the moment.