DALLAS - Dirk Nowitzki has long avoided talk of retirement but conceded to a German magazine that he could step away from the game as early as after the 2016-17 season.
"Originally my plan was to play the full 20 years and play in Dallas until 2018," Nowitzki told the German weekly magazine SportBild. "But just because I signed a two-year contract doesn't automatically mean I will play the two years. It could happen already next year. If it doesn't go that well and everything hurts, I could call it quits in 2017. We will all sit down together in the summer and then we'll see."
Nowitzki is averaging 12.2 points and 6.4 rebounds in five games this season. He and the Mavericks agreed on a two-year extension in July 2016. Dallas have the option for the 2017-18 season, but the 38-year-old German legend has the final say.
The Wurzburg native admitted he does not fear the end of his playing days.
"I will miss the competition and the camaraderie in the locker room," Nowitzki said. "But with three children, I won't get bored."
Nowitzki, who helped the Mavericks win the NBA title in 2011, said he will take "a year or two off and do nothing but play golf, raise the kiddies and work with my (Dirk Nowitzki) Foundation."
Nowitzki, who is working on his return to the court, also admitted to yearning for a long-forgotten secret passion - the ski slopes.
"I also am really looking forward to skiing again. That has been forbidden in my contract for the last 20 years," said the 2.13m big man, who guided the German national team to third-place finishes at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2002 and FIBA EuroBasket 2005.
"The focus of my life will remain in Dallas," he said. "I have spent almost half of my life here. I have a certain standing here that you just can't give up."
Nowitzki has not officially retired from the German national team though many believe he played his final game for his homeland at FIBA EuroBasket 2015 in Berlin.