Mark Cuban says Mavericks paid Dirk Nowitzki even more than he asked

A couple of weeks ago, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he never worried about star forward Dirk Nowitzki leaving in free agency because, in Dallas, "Dirk gets what Dirk wants." It turns out that statement could have been more accurate: Dirk gets even more than he wants.

In an interview with Brown and Scoop on CBS Radio's Play.it, Cuban revealed that the Mavericks' negotiations with Nowitzki were not exactly ordinary. Nowitzki said one number, and Cuban went higher. Eventually, the contract was for even more than what they agreed on -- Cuban essentially gave Nowitzki all the money the team could without going into the luxury tax: $25 million this coming season, with a team option for $25 million in 2017-18.

"Dirk wasn't even in the country and people couldn't even reach him when free agency started," Cuban said. "I basically told him, look, you tell me the price and it actually started lower. His agent said, 'How about this much?' and we said, 'We'll have a little more money, we'll give you more,' and as the numbers started getting bigger and bigger, it was like, 'What about this number? We'll give you more.' Finally, it was like, 'This is what we got left, take it!'

"We wanted to make it a two-year deal with a team option so that people wouldn't speculate that he was going to retire because Dirk is the type of guy, he's just a good guy," Cuban continued. "He would hate going city to city to city and everyone asking him if he was going to retire because he has no intention of retiring after this year and, with the team option that we have, he gave us the flexibility that said, if we find somebody that we can send the money to that he likes, we all like, then let's do it and if not, let's give the money to Dirk again, which I'm fine with, too."

Mark Cuban points
Mark Cuban will make sure Dirk Nowitzki is a Maverick for life. USATSI

It would be silly to quibble with Nowitzki's salary. Sure, he's a defensive liability and he can't create his own offense as easily as he used to, but this is a future Hall of Famer who won a championship in Dallas and will probably have a statue there someday. He has accepted below-market-value contracts so Cuban could go after free agents that would help the team win, and it sounds like he was willing to do that again this time. When the Mavericks didn't need him to take a discount, they rewarded him.

Other players -- including potential Mavs targets in free agency -- around the league surely noticed this, just like they noticed the Miami Heat losing Dwyane Wade after 13 seasons. Cuban sees the value in having Nowitzki spend his entire career in Dallas, and he told Sports Illustrated's Chris Ballard this past season that Nowitzki has "a contract for life." After Nowitzki retires, Cuban envisions him staying involved with the team and doing community events. The NBA can be cutthroat, but sometimes loyalty is good for business.

CBS Sports Writer

James Herbert is somewhat fond of basketball, feature writing and understatements. A former season-ticket holder for the expansion Toronto Raptors, Herbert does not think the NBA was better back in the... Full Bio

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