Thursday, September 20th, 2018 pm30 10:57pm

Dirk Nowitzki plans to return to Dallas Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks star forward Dirk Nowitzki said he plans to be back with the club next season.

Nowitzki, who will turn 38 in June, has one opt-in season remaining on a three-year deal.

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The only thing that would provoke a change in mind would be if the Mavericks opted to go in a rebuilding direction.

“I signed on for three years a couple years ago. My intention was always to finish this contract. I always said I wanted to retire with the Mavs, especially after we won the championship a few years ago. There’s no reason to go anywhere unless the Mavs are rebuilding.

“I always said that the last couple of years, I’d never want to be a part of rebuilding. Next season, I’ll be 38. As long as we go for it and every summer we add guys and keep competing, then I’ll be a Mav for the rest of my career.”

Nowitzki averaged 20.4 points in the five-game playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The series ended Monday when the Thunder defeated the Mavericks 118-104.

Coach Rick Carlisle isn’t taking Nowitzki’s return as a given.

“We’ve got to hope that this isn’t Dirk’s last game as a Maverick,” Carlisle said. “Now he has the option to become a free agent. I’m ready to get on a plane and go to Germany and recruit him to be back, but I don’t think we can take that for granted. I think we have to give him that kind of respect.

“He’s done so much for our organization. He’s sacrificed so much. And it’s been such a life-changing experience for me to be around a player of that magnitude for eight years. It’s indescribable. I think he will be back, but I don’t want anybody to just assume anything, because he’s been too great.”

Nowitzki, who averaged 18.3 points this season, ranks sixth in NBA history with 29,491 career points. He led the Mavericks to the 2011 NBA title and was named NBA Finals MVP.

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