Dirk Nowitzki has said he hopes to play another season in Dallas despite the disappointment of another early exit from the NBA playoffs. The German forward's coach is also hoping to have him back.
The Oklahoma City Thunder beat Nowitzki's Mavericks 118-104 on Monday night to take the first-round best-of-seven series four games to one. The Mavs, who only qualified for the playoffs on the second-last game of the regular season, have not won a post-season series since the won the NBA championship in 2011.
Nowitzki, who walked off the court to applause from the Oklahoma City crowd, was the injury-depleted Mavericks' top scorer on the night, but it was far from enough to trouble the Thunder.
Despite his disappointment at the result, Nowitzki said he and his teammates could hold their heads high.
"I am really proud of this team, we gave everything possible," the 37-year-old Würzburg native said.
"In the final analysis, the Thunder are a team with two superstars (Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant) and they are just more talented and have more depth than we do."
He also noted that "we had way too many injuries."
One more year?
Asked about his future, Nowitzki said he would like to fulfill his contract at Dallas which runs until the end of next season, but includes an option that would allow him to opt out of the third year.
"I could of years ago, I signed of for three years and my intention has always been to fulfill this contract," he said. However, he also said this would depend on which direction management decides to go in, because he is too old to be part of a rebuilding process at the club.
Head coach Rick Carlisle left no doubt about the fact that he wants the German back for the 2016-17 season.
"We've got to hope that this isn't Dirk's last game as a Maverick," the coach said. "He has the option to become a free agent. I'm ready to get on a plane to go to Germany and recruit him to be back. I don't think we can take that for granted. I think we have to give him that kind of respect."
Open to national team return
Nowitzki also revealed he would play for the German national team, should they regain the chance to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Nowitzki ended his international career in January, but may return to help Germany qualify for the Olympics
FIBA, the organization behind international basketball, could ban 14 European countries - including Spain, Italy and Serbia - from the Olympics due to the governing body's conflict with the privately run Eurobasket. That could open the door for Germany, who failed to get out of their group in Eurobasket, to enter the Olympic qualifying tournament in July. FIBA's executive committee will meet this weekend to decide the Olympic fates of these countries.
Nowitzki had retired from the German national team in January, but he would not pass up the chance to help is country if they do indeed have a chance to qualify. "If that is the case I would definitely need to come back," he said.
"I think the decision will come in the next few weeks," Nowitzki added. "Then we can discuss if I put the jersey back on."
pfd/rd (dpa, SID, AP)