Dirk Takes Even Less

Wizards v/s Mavericks 02/26/11

The Dirk Discount is deeper than expected – in more ways than one.

The iconic Dirk Nowitzki officially signed his new contract with his beloved Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday. It wasn’t the $20-million-a-year deal that teams like the Lakers and Rockets would’ve dangled at him as a free agent. And now it turns out it isn’t the made-public three-year, $30-million deal, either.

Mavs sources tell me that the deal, first reported by ESPN, is a three-year, $25-million contract – one-third what he could’ve gotten on the open market and $5 million less than he and Mavs owner (and Dirk chum) Mark Cuban first settled on.

Why? In the most immediate way, the Mavs as of Tuesday morning needed to fit both Dirk and Devin Harris, who had similarly agreed to a loosy-goosey deal worth “about” $3 million, into salary cap room totaling what DallasBasketball.com reported to be precisely $11,853,377. So what’d Nowitzki do to allow Devin his due? Dirk cut his annual salary from an average of $10 million to an average of $8.33 million.

Dirk accepted LESS than LESS.

Contrary to popular belief, this contract does not free the Mavs to make substantial other moves (though Dallas certainly is still working to fill its roster). This was about facilitating the finalization of contracts already waiting in Cuban’s in-box, Devin’s and the three-year, $46-mil windfall of new star Chandler Parsons, too.

But it might be very much about the Mavs’ long-standing theme of “shared sacrifice,” a contractual message delivered by Dirk – Dallas’ “unofficial assistant GM” – that resonates through the locker room. Had Nowitzki demanded something close to his three-year max – he could’ve received nearly $75 mil – and teams like the Rockets and Lakers might’ve been in play there.

Dallas wants to be free-agent shoppers next summer. Tyson Chandler’s $15-mil salary is expiring; wouldn’t it be nice to get him back cheaper? And next summer, Monta Ellis, if he wishes, can opt out of his three-year, $25-million contract.

The Mavs swear this is just coincidence, but … a three-year, $25-million contract with an opt-out at the end? That sounds awfully familiar, awfully coincidental, almost as if it is a Nowitzki contractual sound meant to, yes, resonate through the Dallas locker room.

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Mike Fisher has over 30 years of covering professional sports and has done so based in Dallas since 1990. 'Fish' is an award-winning journalist, TV analyst and radio talk-show personality who serves as the Dallas Cowboys' 'insider' for 105.3 The Fan on the radio and as the Dallas Mavericks' insider for Fox Sports Southwest on TV. Fish is the publisher of DallasBasketball.com , is also a national contributor to FOX Sports, has covered 21 Super Bowls, has authored two best-selling books on the Cowboys (with forewords by Jerry Jones and Troy Aikman) and can be followed at @FishSports on Twitter.