Dirk Nowitzki has once again given the Dallas Mavericks a big discount, agreeing to a two-year, $10 million contract. The deal came after the team declined their $25 million option for the upcoming season, a move made after they consulted with Nowitzki, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, suggesting he was on board with the much lower salary.
As many have noted, this is the third time Nowitzki has given the Mavs a considerable discount on a contract. But in reality, his discounts actually started before that. In 2006, Nowitzki still had two years remaining on his original rookie extension when he agreed to another extension worth $59 million over three years. If he had not taken that deal, he would have been eligible in 2008 for a six-year, $158 million max contract as a 10-year veteran, which would have come before the NBA started to curb salaries in 2011.
If we assume Nowitzki would not have opted out of the max deal early, his next contract would have come in 2014 and he would have been eligible for a five-year, $239 million max contract through the 2018-19 season. Instead, Nowitzki signed a three-year, $25 million contract in 2014, a one-year $25 million deal in 2016, and the latest contract that runs through 2018-19.
Those two max contracts would have pushed Nowitzki’s career earnings to $446 million by the end of the 2018-19 season, $194 million more than his actual career earnings ($252 million).
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Of course, none of this guarantees that Mark Cuban would have been willing to give Nowitzki the two max contracts even if Nowitzki would have demanded them. But it does give a sense of just how much money Nowitzki has sacrificed in his career – a lot.