But this off-season is different. This time, after 12 seasons in Dallas, Nowitzki can exercise an option in his contract and become a free agent. All season, he said he could foresee no reason why he would use that option.
But Thursday night, 31-year-old Nowitzki stopped well short of declaring himself a Maverick for life, ready to forge into an uncertain future with possibly another revamped Dallas roster.
"I wanted to obviously have a long playoff run here and go for my dream again," Nowitzki said. "And now I'm just obviously too shocked and too disappointed.
"I haven't really thought anything about my future yet. I guess I've got some time now to think about some stuff, think about my options."
Gulp. That's the sound of Mavericks fans swallowing hard at the mere thought of a future without Nowitzki. Nowitzki pointed out that he has until July to make a decision about his contract option.
But in a moment of level-headed reflection amid the disappointment, Nowitzki added: "Everything's too fresh right now. I've got some time to think about some stuff."
Worry not, Dallas fans: Dirk's just butt-hurt after another disappointing series. Mark Cuban will do everything he can to remind Dirk that he's a Mav at heart, and the seven-footer will be back in Dallas next season. - CYE