The fact that Dirk Nowitzki will turn 35 this June shouldn’t worry Dallas Mavericks fans. Or so says Mark Cuban. The owner expects Dirk to play at or near All-Star level for at least three more seasons (Nowitzki, meanwhile, just hopes he can stay healthy and consistent.) Per ESPN: “Since his 11-year streak of All-Star appearances was snapped, Nowitzki has averaged 18.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, shooting 49.5 percent from the floor and 50 percent from 3-point range. ‘What we’re seeing now with Dirk is what we can expect to see next year and the year after, if he stays healthy,’ Cuban said. ‘And the year after that.’ Three more years of All-Star caliber play from a power forward who turns 35 this summer? ‘At least,’ Cuban said. Nowitzki wasn’t so quick to predict the same. ‘I’m not sure about all that,’ said Nowitzki, a 15-year veteran who is averaging the fewest points (16.4) since his rookie year after missing the first 27 games of the season following arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. ‘We’ll just have to wait and see. Hopefully I can finish this season strong and have a good summer like I basically did last year with a lot of lifting and running and hopefully not have a setback with a surgery. We’ll see how consistent I can be again next season.’ It’s only been a couple of months since Nowitzki was wondering whether he wanted to keep playing after his contract expires next summer. He recently declared that he’d stick around through at least the 2015-16 season, but Nowitzki openly discussed making a transition from go-to guy to a role player in the years to come. But Cuban can’t see Nowitzki as a role player, not even if the Mavs succeed in their year-old mission to acquire a legitimate star to pair with him, if not remove the burden of the franchise from the future Hall of Famer’s shoulders. Not for the next few years, at least.”
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