Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki confirmed his intention to return next season for a 20th year with the club.
“Definitely playing next year,” Nowitzki told reporters on Thursday after having his exit interview with the team.
The future Hall of Famer averaged 14.2 points in 54 games this season. The average was his lowest since his rookie season of 1998-99 when he contributed 8.2 per game.
Most of the 28 games Nowitzki missed were due to Achilles’ tendon soreness, but he said he feels healthy upon completion of the 2016-17 campaign.
“If I feel like I did at the end, I think I can play another one after that,” Nowitzki said of possibly playing in 2018-19. “I will just leave all that open. When I signed on for two more years last summer, that was the plan.”
Nowitzki, who turns 39 in June, became the sixth player in NBA history to reach the 30,000-point mark when he topped the barrier in March. The 7-foot power forward has scored 30,260 points.
The 13-time All-Star has a career scoring average of 21.7 points and has averaged more than 20 in a season on 13 occasions.
Nowitzki won NBA MVP honors in 2006-07 and was NBA Finals MVP in 2011 when the Mavericks won their lone title by defeating the Miami Heat.
Magic fire GM Hennigan after fifth straight losing season
The Orlando Magic fired general manager Rob Hennigan on Thursday, one day after the team missed the playoffs for the fifth straight year.
Orlando also dismissed assistant general manager Scott Perry and made assistant general manager Matt Lloyd its interim GM. The team said Lloyd will be considered for the permanent job.
“We appreciate Rob’s efforts to rebuild the team, but feel we have not made any discernible improvement over the last few years specifically. It’s time for different leadership in basketball operations. We certainly wish Rob and his family well,” CEO Alex Martins said in a statement.
“Matt brings solid experience and his appointment as general manager on an interim basis will allow us to seamlessly continue our preparations for the upcoming draft.”
Hennigan, who was hired as the youngest GM in the NBA at age 30 in 2012, was under contract through next season. Orlando posted a 132-278 mark under his watch.
After shipping Tobias Harris to Detroit for Ersan Ilyasova and Brandon Jennings’ expiring contract, Hennigan sent starting power forward Serge Ibaka to Toronto for swingman Terrence Ross and the lower of the Toronto Raptors’ two 2017 first-round picks. The move came just eight months after surrendering Victor Oladipo, No. 11 overall pick Domantas Sabonis and another future first-round pick to acquire Ibaka from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Orlando failed to remove itself from the basement of the Southeast Division in each of Hennigan’s five seasons. The Magic finished 29-53 in 2016-17.
Lloyd was named assistant general manager of the Magic on June 29, 2012. Prior to his arrival in Orlando, Lloyd spent 13 years with the Chicago Bulls, with his last five as their director of college scouting.
Knicks pick up Jackson’s two-year contract option
The New York Knicks and team president Phil Jackson picked up their option on the remaining two years of his contract, ESPN reported on Thursday morning.
New York has posted an 80-166 mark and missed the playoffs in each of the first three years under the watch of Jackson, who is making $12 million annually.
Jackson, 71, had said the opt-out clause in his contract was related to the possibility of a lockout in 2017.
Owner James Dolan told ESPN radio on Feb. 10 that he planned to honor the five-year contract with Jackson “all the way to the end.”
The Knicks found the end of their schedule on Wednesday, wrapping up a 31-51 season with a 114-113 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Carmelo Anthony watched from the bench in the fourth quarter as the future of the team won at Madison Square Garden.
Whether Anthony, who has been the subject of trade talks for most of the season, will join the younger players next year remains to be seen. The Knicks’ leading scorer has a no-trade clause in his contract and would have to approve any deal.
New York, which made the playoffs in 14 straight seasons from 1988 to 2001, has failed to qualify for the postseason in 12 of the last 16 campaigns. The Knicks also closed out their seventh season with at least 50 losses since 2001.
Georgia F Maten declares for NBA draft
Georgia standout forward Yante Maten entered his name into the NBA draft on Thursday.
Maten said he won’t hire an agent, a decision that will allow him to return for his senior season if he chooses.
“I have always had the dream of playing in the NBA,” Maten said in a statement. “This is a chance for me to safely see where they project me.”
The 6-foot-8 Maten averaged 18.2 points and 6.8 rebounds as a junior. He has until May 24 to decide whether to remain in the draft or return to school.
Coach Mark Fox feels Maten is doing the right thing by getting evaluations from NBA scouts and talent assessors.
“Like all players, Yante now has the opportunity to get information from the NBA and get an accurate read on their assessment of him at this time,” Fox said in a statement. “Once he receives that information, Yante will be able to decide which avenue is in his best interest.”
Maten is currently forecast as a late second-round pick or an undrafted free agent.