Through good times and bad, Dirk Nowitzki is the Mavericks' icon.

And by his reckoning, being there in the stormy times -- and this rebuilding season was 50 shades of rough -- is just as important as when the sun shines brightly.

"Hey, if you're going with a team like I have so long, if that's what it takes, I guess that's what it takes," Nowitzki said Thursday. "I obviously knew it (rebuilding) was a possibility. At the end of the day, I just can't imagine myself in a different uniform.

"If we're rebuilding, then I'm the face of that. If we're a championship (team), then I'm here for that. I just identified myself with the organization for so long, with the fan base, with the city, that no matter what the franchise is going through, I'm right there to push it through."

Nowitzki, owner Mark Cuban, president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson and coach Rick Carlisle have a ton of work to do in the coming months.

This team underachieved -- partly because of injuries and partly because of a much-needed decision to go younger. But the bottom line is their injury-marred 33-49 season was worse than even the wise guys in Las Vegas predicted. The over/under for Maverick wins before the season was set at 38 ½.

Having Nowitzki to act as the Mavericks' security blanket moving forward is a comforting feeling. No, he's not the All-Star producer he's been for close to two decades. But his 19th season in the league showed that he can still play the game well enough to be a contributor who is valuable on the court and off.