That has a point of discussion on talk radio since the Mavericks were knocked out of the playoffs. Does Dirk Nowitzki have what it takes to lead a team to an NBA title?

I think yes, and that's mostly based on the fact that they should have won a championship in 2006. They had a significant advantage in the series before the referees began treating third-year pro Dwayne Wade like he was Michael Jordan. Dirk was the leader of that team, and even though they didn't win it that year, they should have, and to me that means Dirk had enough as a player to lead a team to a title. If that makes sense.

It sounds like Dirk will stay with the team to give it another go. Team owner Mark Cuban was on with the Ticket radio earlier this week and said that he and Dirk spent part of the weekend talking about the future of the team. And despite the blown-out-of-proportion statement Dirk made during exit interviews about keeping his options open, he has never given us any reason to think he wants to leave.

This summer should be interesting. As it's currently constructed, the Mavericks are the oldest team in the NBA. I did a story for our Mavs special before Game 5 against the Spurs and looked into that aspect of the team. At the time, the average age of their top six rotation guys was 32.5 years old. Going through the last 11 champions, the oldest core to win a title came from the 1999 Spurs, whose starting five averaged 30.6 years old. And 1999 was the lockout year, so teams played only 50 games in the regular season, so the old players on the Spurs didn't have as much mileage for the playoffs that they normally would have.

Among other things, the Mavericks have to get younger. They can't go out next year with the team they have right now. Dirk isn't helping the average age of the Mavs -- he turns 32 next month. Statistically he is still peaking; he has shown no sign of decline. There's no reason to think Dirk can't produce at the level he has been for another couple years, at least. But he does need help, and that will be the focus of Cuban and Donnie Nelson this summer.

Read or Share this story: