Starting again, Dirk still pondering one more year

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Dirk Nowitzki, who has received farewell tributes in arenas around the NBA this season, has never ruled out returning for a 22nd campaign with the Mavericks.

While Nowitzki maintains that he won’t make a final decision until this summer, holding off on retirement now seems more realistic than it has at any point this season. That’s because he feels better physically than he has since he underwent ankle surgery last spring, and the Mavs’ future appears bright thanks to rookie star Luka Doncic’s emergence and the recent trade for Kristaps Porzingis. nike

“I’d love to be there for the young guys one more year, but I think it depends on how the body feels,” Nowitzki said after producing 11 points, five rebounds and three assists in 22 minutes during Wednesday’s 110-101 win over the Indiana Pacers. “I’ve had some issues, obviously, this year. I had some knee swelling here the last few weeks, actually before the All-Star break, so it’s not all great. But like I said, I am feeling better. I am feeling a little stronger.8

“I think I’m going to make that decision later on, but I think the future’s bright. I think Luka and KP, if they stay healthy, stay together, they should be a great combo. They should play great off each other. Both have an incredible skill set for their size, incredible playmaking ability for their size. They should jell well, but we have to see how it goes next year.”

The 40-year-old Nowitzki, who set an NBA record for seasons played with one franchise, missed the first 26 games of the season due to an inflamed tendon in his left foot, which was related to the surgery he had to remove bone spurs in that ankle. He was a shell of himself for weeks after his return, scoring in double figures only three times before the All-Star break.

Nowitzki has scored in double figures the past three games, his first three starts of the season. He has averaged 12.7 points and 4.0 rebounds in 24.3 minutes in that span, after previously not logging more than 18 minutes in a game this season.

“I feel like I have a little more pep in my step,” said Nowitzki, who hit a pair of 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter to help the Mavs pad their lead over the Pacers. “My legs and my wind are a lot better than [earlier in the season]. I just feel better overall. I feel like I can actually contribute, whereas earlier I was struggling just to get up and down.”