Exit Interview: Dirk Nowitzki

For the man who doesn’t need an introduction, here is the exit interview quote board for Dirk Nowitzki.

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On the season ending the way it did: “Getting blown out in Game 7 is tough. It kind of throws the effort out a little bit. But you’ve got to give San Antonio credit. I think they played their best game of the series. Really starting with the Big Three setting the tone early, Parker being on fire and then the role players kind of fell in line. You’ve got to give them credit. They were the best team in the regular season and they put up their best game against us in a Game 7 situation with a lot of pressure. But I like what we’ve done. I like what we’ve done to get in the playoffs, to battle. The excitement we showed. The fight we showed. Definitely like that. I like the fight we showed for the first six games, giving them nothing easy and making them work for everything and sweat it out at least to go to a Game 7. But Game 7 was a tough one. That’s for sure.”

On the success of the season: “Our goal was to make the playoffs. I thought we had the weapons to do it. Even in the tough West, I think we could do it. And it was really close. We came all the way down to the last week or so. Had a huge home game here against Phoenix. Basically if we win, we’re in, which is a great setup. You have one home game to get into the playoffs. It was fun to be in the big dance again. You have to at there’s 16 teams that can have a chance to win it all and we were one of the 16. We gave ourselves a chance. I thought the fans were excited for us and the building was on fire. I think the fans are proud of us. Just Game 7 was a little tough.”

On the playoffs: “I thought we were going to have a legit shot at making the playoffs looking at the roster even in a tough West. We might have had a few more wins if B Wright doesn’t miss the first month, if Devin doesn’t miss basically the first two and a half months. But injuries are part of the deal, part of the business. If they’re healthy all season, maybe we even sneak up a couple of places which would have maybe would have helped us in the playoff seedings. All that is when and ifs and buts. I thought once those guys were healthy, we finished the season strong. We had a good run after the All-Star break. We were one of the better teams on the road, which is very good for a team with nine new guys to have one of the best road records in this league is pretty impressive to me. It’s just at home we had some issues that we’ve got to correct for next season.”

On what Nowitzki GM views as needs for the summer: “You can always get better. You can always get more athletic at every position. You never have enough shooters on your team. You can have another playmaker. You can always get better. That’s not the problem in this league. We’ll just have to wait and see how the summer goes. We have a lot of cap space. We know that again. Donnie and Mark are probably going to go to work. We’ll go from there. But we definitely want to improve. It’s no secret. After winning it in ’11, I think you always want to compete for the championship again. You don’t want to compete for the eighth seed. We’d love to get better and compete even higher. But we made it pretty clear that those two guys are our backcourt for a while. We signed both of these guys, Jose and Monta, to multi-year deals and they played great. Monta really helped me in a later stage in my career. So those two guys are great and they’re going to be our backcourt moving forward.”

On how close they are to taking that next big step as a team: “It’s tough to say, especially now. We have a bunch of free agents again. You don’t really know where this franchise is going to go. We hope it’s going to go up. But we’ll just have to wait and see. After the ’06 season when we lost the finals, I thought we were going to go to the finals the next three, four years straight. And it took us basically five years we go back there again. You can analyze this, analyze that, you never know what’s going to happen until you see the roster for next year and see how the other teams have stacked up, how injuries play effect. I definitely like the approach we took last summer. And that’s not the eight, nine one-year deals. It’s have a steady backcourt. It’s signing guys to longer deals and know that they’re here and the fan base obviously identifies themselves with them. From that standpoint, it was a good year.”

On turning another year older and free agency:  “The big 36 knocking at the door. It’s crazy that 16 years in the books. It’s actually a little sad but also exciting. It’s been a crazy ride. I was excited this year that I played 80 games, which nobody really saw coming after last season. So I’m happy about that I can compete every night and try to beat out there for the team every night. If I feel like that, I still think I can play a couple more years at a high level. Just going to have to wait and see, meet with Mark a bunch. I’m not going anywhere for a while. We’re going to figure some stuff out here the next couple of weeks. But like I said, the year before was a little worried, with the knee injury and not getting going for a long, long time. This year I felt a lot better about my body, my health. So I think still think I can play at a high level for a couple of years.”

On if he’ll sign a Tim Duncan-like deal: “I have no idea honestly what it will be right now. I haven’t really thought about it since we just lost Game 7. That’s the brutal thing about a Game 7. When you win, you move on to the next round. When you lose, the season’s over the next day. Haven’t really put much thought into it. But like I said, Donnie and Mark were talking to me planning this summer and we’ll figure something out.”

On what he plans to do this summer in terms of workouts: “I’m going to be here for a while again. Probably go home to Europe, take the little one to Europe for a little bit. Probably not until July though. I’m going to be in here. Work for me the last couple of years in the summer was keeping the legs strong. I’m not going to be in here obviously in May or June shooting and running. But I’m going to be probably lifting twice a week just to keep a base so by the time when I do start shooting, my knees are OK because that’s very important. As you get older, you put more time in rather than less. I’m going to be in here quite a bit. Might go to the beach for a little bit, but that’s really about it.”

On walking gingerly to the podium after playoff games and for this interview: “It’s been a lot of games. In the playoffs, I averaged almost 40 minutes a night and then every other night. That was a bit much. I don’t think I had enough left in the tank yesterday to really take this thing over and take it to another level, which is disappointing. But hey, it happens. Like I said, feel fine, feel great for 100 games and have basically only missed two games. Feel great for that.”

On which free agents he’d like to see come in: “Tough to say. Everybody knows who the top fish is, or the top couple of … fishes? I’m not even sure. Fishies? I’m not even sure. We’ll just have to wait and see honestly. It’s a little early right now. We lost Game 7 yesterday. I’m not even sure if Mark and Donnie themselves have even put some thought into it. But you’ve got to aim high and go from there. I’m sure they’ll figure something out. Now is the time to start thinking about stuff like that. And I’m sure Mark and Donnie will get on it ASAP.”

On his contract influencing how the front office can use their cap space: “We want to get better as a team. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to sign Kobe’s deal (laughs). Unfortunately. We’ll find a good way where I feel respected for what I did and where we still have enough money left for us to get great players in here. Cubes has been great to me, has been loyal to me for a long, long time. I’m sure we’re going to find a great solution for everybody.”

On continuity with the roster: “I really like what those guys brought this year, the veteran leadership, the hard playing, the playmaking. In big games, they were always there. You always try to get your warriors back. We saw that in ’11 it doesn’t always happen that way. Business decisions come in and other teams will come in and try to steal your players away and give them big money. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens. We’d love all these guys. They played their hearts every game for us. Vince, did Vince play all 82 this year? That’s amazing for a fossil (laughs). And same with Trix. He’s a warrior. He’s always out there. Devin had some issues with this toe. Once he was back he was in attack mode. We can always use his speed and athleticism in backcourt. We’d love to have all these guys back but we’ll have to wait and see what happens in free agency.”