After 17 NBA seasons, Dirk Nowitzki is well aware that his NBA career is coming to a close. Nowitzki made a possible tearful goodbye from the German national team this summer but he isn't planning on retiring from the Dallas Mavericks until his contract ends in 2017.

From Nowitzki's chat with reporters at media day (via Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News):

Any retirement thoughts in the back of his head as he enters this season? 

"Obviously it gets closer, but it's not like I'm thinking of the beach every day. I want to play two more years under contract here, hopefully at a high level, compete, hopefully be efficient when I'm out there. And then retirement obviously comes soon enough. But as of now, I still think I can play at a high level. I'm going to work my butt off here these four weeks to get in the best shape I can get, and then leave it all out there again." 

Will he wait until after his current two-year contract expires to ponder retirement? 

"Obviously if you know me a little bit I'm not going to do what some of these athletes do and announce it the year before and have a farewell tour. That's the worst thing that I can think about, (have to) talk about every day. When I'm gone, I'm gone. That's how it's going to go." 

Last year at 36 years old, Nowitzki had another All-Star season and averaged 17.3 points while shooting 38 percent from three-point range. While Nowitzki might have slowed down as he has gotten older, he's a vital part of the Mavs offense and is still playing at a high level. The Mavs have tried to surround Nowitzki as he has gotten older with players who can help him shoulder the load but with Wesley Matthews and Chandler Parsons expected to miss the start of the season, he will be asked to carry Dallas yet again. 

If Nowitzki does choose to retire after his contract expires with Dallas, he will be considered as one of the all-time greats and should no doubt be a future Hall of Famer. Hopefully when he does retire, Nowitzki won't just be "gone" like he told reporters. He is far too entertaining to not be involved in the NBA in some fashion.

Dirk Nowitzki is thinking about retirement.
Dirk Nowitzki is thinking about retirement. (USATSI)