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Nowitzki not so sure 21st season with Mavs is his last

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By Agence France-Presse

Dallas Mavericks talisman Dirk Nowitzki, whose 21st NBA season is taking on the flavor of a farewell tour, says he hasn’t actually ruled out a 22nd campaign.

For one thing, the 40-year-old German is finally feeling good — and he wouldn’t mind sticking around to shepherd new teammate Luka Doncic, who turned 20 on Thursday, into his sophomore season alongside another young European star Kristaps Porzingis recently acquired by the Mavs.

“I don’t know,” Nowitzki said after scoring 11 points in the Mavericks’ 111-101 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night. “I haven’t really thought about it. I would love to be there for the young guys one more year, but I think it depends on how the body feels.

“I’ve had issues obviously this year,” he added. “But I am feeling better. I am feeling stronger.”

Wednesday marked Nowitzki’s third straight start, after coming off the bench previously in a season that didn’t get off the ground until December as the 2007 NBA Most Valuable Player recovered from ankle surgery.

“I feel like I have a little more pep in my step,” Nowitzki said. “My legs and my wind are a lot better, I just feel better overall.

“I feel like I can actually contribute, whereas earlier I was struggling just to get up and down.”

Nowitzki is setting an NBA record with his 21st season with the Mavs, having been tied at 20 seasons with the same club with former Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant.

He’s 69 points away from passing Wilt Chamberlain for sixth place on the NBA’s all-time leading scoring list, and along with Miami Heat icon Dwyane Wade was accorded a special roster spot for the All-Star Game by commissioner Adam Silver.

Nowitzki is appreciative of the recognition, but unlike Wade he hasn’t actually announced that this will be his final season.

He’s therefore been touched, but also a little sheepish at the gestures of appreciation he’s received at venues around the league, including the late timeout called by Clippers coach Doc Rivers during a game on Monday just so fans could acknowledge Nowtizki.

“I think I’m going to make that decision later on,” Nowitzki said. “But I think the future’s bright. I think Luka and KP, if they stay healthy, stay together, they should be a great combo. They should jell well, but we have to see how it goes next year.”