Since Dirk Nowitzki led his Dallas Mavericks over the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals, the Mavs haven’t made it out of the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs. Nowitzki has watched as younger teams like the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder have emerged, and as the Spurs have somehow to continued to improve.

With his Mavs fighting for one of the bottom seeds in the West, a championship this year doesn’t seem likely, and he has some decisions to make at this point in his career. Nowitzki turns 38 in June, and the rest of the Mavericks’ core – players like Deron Williams, Chandler Parsons and Wesley Matthews – is comprised of veterans.

Earlier today, Nowitzki made it clear to reporters that he hopes to pick up the player option on his contract and play next season with the Mavericks.

“In my mind, after we won the championship, it was always clear I will retire a Mav,” Nowitzki said.

However, he also made it clear he’s going to sit back and see how this year plays out. If the Mavericks go into rebuilding mode, he seemed to hint he would prefer to join a contender.

Nowitzki recently watched as his close friend Steve Nash came to grips with retirement. Could that be another option? The oldest active player is Andre Miller, who is 40 years old. Nowitzki probably doesn’t have more than a few years left in the tank.

Regardless of how it plays out, it will be sad to see Dirk, a lock for the Hall of Fame, leave the NBA.

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[via BlackSportsOnline]