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Mavs sign Nowitzki to long-term deal

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DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks signed forward Dirk Nowitzki to a maximum contract extension worth roughly $90 million over six years.

Mavs owner Mark Cuban announced the deal, which had been all but done for weeks, to fans in an on-court speech prior to the Mavericks' 113-104 exhibition victory over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night.

"It's a great thing," Nowitzki said after getting 14 points and six rebounds while playing through foul trouble. "I'm happy to get it out of the way before the season starts."

The contract, which kicks in after this season, had been close to being finished for so long that the team put in its preseason media guide that it was completed Oct. 1. The primary holdup was a medical problem that prevented Nowitzki's agent from traveling to Dallas from Germany.

Nowitzki said he was willing to give up becoming a free agent after this season because he's so happy with the Mavericks. In July, Michael Finley signed a seven-year deal, so the pair are slated to be teammates through 2007-08.

"I love it here in Dallas — the fans, the organization, everything," Nowitzki said.

Nowitzki is coming off a breakout season in which he led the Mavericks in scoring (21.8 points) and rebounding (9.2), while helping them win 53 games and reach the second round of the playoffs. It was Dallas' best season in 12 years.

Nowitzki showed his toughness by playing through a lost tooth in one playoff game and displayed his ability to take over a game by scoring 42 points and grabbing 18 rebounds in another. He led the team in scoring and rebounding again in the postseason.

The 7-foot, 245-pound forward is versatile enough to play anywhere from small forward to center. He, Finley and Steve Nash are billed as the team's Big Three because so much of the Mavericks' success hinges on them.