The Dallas Mavericks got the answer they were hoping for Saturday night: Dirk Nowitzki has pledged to re-sign with the only team he's ever played for.
Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com that Nowitzki and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban have reached terms on a new four-year contract after a series of wrap-up meetings that consumed much of the day.
The deal, sources said, is worth at least $80 million and includes a no-trade clause, with Nowitzki making good on a longstanding offer to Cuban to take less than the maximum $96.2 million he could have received over the next four seasons in exchange for assurances that the Mavericks will use that financial flexibility to ramp up their efforts to acquire a top-tier sidekick.
Nowitzki can't actually sign before July 8, which is the first day teams and players can execute new contracts, but having the All-Star power forward's verbal commitment should enable Dallas to begin its pursuit of help through sign-and-trade offers in earnest, since Cuban can now assure prospective targets that Nowitzki will be in Dallas through at least 2013-14.
The sides have been negotiating for weeks in the wake of Dallas' first-round playoff ouster, after team officials learned in mid-May that Nowitzki was determined to opt out and become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career as opposed to signing a three-year extension before June 30.
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Nowitzki and longtime adviser/personal coach Holger Geschwindner were formally presented with a contract Friday and then sealed an agreement in principle in a sitdown at Cuban's home. The second round of face-to-face talks after Friday's meetings didn't start until the afternoon, however, to allow the ever-patriotic Nowitzki to host a morning gathering at his home in Dallas to watch Germany's quarterfinal demolition of Argentina in the World Cup.
The Mavericks' all-time leader in scoring and rebounding thus becomes just the second marquee free agent -- of the 10 or so available this summer -- to reach terms on a new contract, joining Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay, who received a five-year deal worth nearly $82 million on the first day of free agency to stay with the Grizzlies.
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Boston Celtics guard Paul Pierce, though, is also close to a new four-year deal worth in excess of $60 million that will keep him with the Celtics, according to sources close to the situation, while the Atlanta Hawks continue to wait for Joe Johnson's expected acceptance of a six-year maximum contract worth nearly $120 million.
Nowitzki also becomes just the second player in the league to secure a no-trade provision in his deal, which can only be added to new contracts -- not extensions -- when a player has at least eight years of NBA service time and four seasons with the same team. The Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant is the only other player with an active no-trade clause, although Pierce is also eligible to get one in his new Celtics contract.
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.