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Dirk Nowitzki: LeBron James can have 'keys to Dallas'

Marc J. Spears
Yahoo Sports
NBA: Miami Heat at Dallas Mavericks
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Feb 18, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) and Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Heat defeated the Mavericks 117-106. (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

NEW YORK – It's no secret LeBron James is a big Dallas Cowboys fan. But Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki has something other than football tickets to offer the Miami Heat free-agent forward.

"C'mon, you can have the keys to the city [of Dallas]," Nowitzki said of his sales pitch to James. "It's all yours."

After acquiring former teammate Tyson Chandler in a trade with the New York Knicks on Wednesday, Nowitzki expressed happiness about the state of the Mavericks prior to Steve Nash's charity soccer game here. But convincing James or Knicks free-agent forward Carmelo Anthony is a tall order.

Nowitzki said he bonded with Chandler when he was the starting center for the Mavericks' 2011 NBA Finals title team. Chandler then took a four-year, $60 million contract to join the Knicks.

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Dirk Nowitzki has no plans to leave Dallas after he becomes a free agent. (AP)

Dirk Nowitzki has no plans to leave Dallas after he becomes a free agent. (AP)

Chandler "helped me get a championship," Nowitzki said. "We had great chemistry together. I'm more than thrilled."

Nowitzki and guard Monta Ellis led Dallas to a 49-33 record and a playoff berth last season. The Mavericks will have about $26.5 million of salary cap space after the Chandler trade if the salary cap moves to about $63.2 million, as expected.

"I liked what we built last summer. Now we got to build on it," Nowitzki said.

James and Anthony will become free agents on Tuesday. The Mavericks are hopeful about getting a meeting with James, a source told Yahoo Sports. Anthony is expected to meet with the Knicks, Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, a source said.

The Mavericks now have a strong lineup with Nowitzki at power forward, Chandler at center, Ellis at shooting guard and a likely upgrade at some point at point guard. The only thing missing is a small forward. Adding James or Anthony would make Dallas a title contender again.

"All the teams with cap room got to try [to sign James]," Nowitzki said. "He's the best player in the league right now. If he's a free agent – which obviously doesn't happen very often that the best player in the league is a free agent – than you got to obviously go at it. I don't know what our chances are, but you at least have to try."

On Anthony, Nowitzki said: "He can score with the best of them. If that's really a possibility, than we'd love to have him."

Nowitzki said he would be willing to help the Mavs in their efforts to recruit James, Anthony and other free agents. Nowitzki, however, also admitted he wasn't too successful in the past in trying to lure Deron Williams and Dwight Howard to Dallas.

"I was active the last couple of years, but it didn't do anything," Nowitzki said. "I was active with D-Will and he stayed [with the Nets]. I flew to L.A. last year to meet with Dwight and he went to Houston. I guess they don't like me much."

Nowitzki also becomes a free agent on Tuesday. But the Mavericks star has no interest in leaving the only franchise he's played for in the NBA.

"I don't want to go anywhere. [Dallas owner Mark Cuban] doesn't want me to go anywhere," Nowitzki said. "Hopefully, it will be a short and quick meeting and get it over and we can get better as a franchise again.

"I've been in Dallas so long it wouldn't even feel right to wear a different jersey and live somewhere else. I never saw that happening in 2010, the last time I was a free agent, and I'm not going to see it now. Mark and I are going to find a deal that is respectable for both sides and hopefully get better again. Last year was a lot better."

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