If they had their way, the Dallas Mavericks probably wish they had 15 players who view money the way Dirk Nowitzki does. Nowitzki’s $14.73 million salary cut — from the $22.7 million he earned last season to $7.97 million — is one of the largest one-year reductions in NBA history. The largest happened when Shaquille O’Neal went from earning $20 million with Cleveland in 2009-10 to $1.35 million with Boston the next season. What’s more, the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers reportedly were willing to give Nowitzki more than $20 million a season for four more years. Nowitzki, however, had no desire to talk to them. When Nowitzki hit the free-agent market July 1, he already knew he wasn’t going to desert the Mavs after spending his 16-year career with them. And he knew he was going to have to take a massive pay cut to help the Mavericks have the salary-cap space to chase quality free agents. “As great a player as he is, he’s a great person and he’s got the ultimate commitment to winning,” said Donnie Nelson, the Mavs’ president of basketball operations. “It’s not just putting his money where his mouth is. “You walk in [American Airlines Center] a week ago and he’s dripping sweat doing two-hour morning sessions when most of the other guys around the league are on vacation and hanging out. And he’s got his mind locked in on October training camp of next season.” According to spotrac.com, Nowitzki has earned $200.34 million during his career, trailing only Kevin Garnett ($298.89 million), Kobe Bryant ($244.36 million) and Tim Duncan ($220.02 million) among active players. Nowitzki knows that if the players at the top of the payroll don’t take significant pay cuts, most owners are unwilling to go to the luxury tax level and fill out their roster with high-dollar players.
Nowitzki’s $14 million-a-year pay cut in record territory
Fort Worth Star-Telegram | Jul 18