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Nowitzki to test free agency

DALLAS — Add Dirk Nowitzki to the bumper crop of talented free agents.

A person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Nowitzki has notified the Dallas Mavericks he is opting out of the final year and $21.5 million on his existing contract. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team wasn’t planning to announce Nowitzki’s decision.

Mavericks president Donnie Nelson already has booked a flight that will have him overseas at 12:01 a.m. ET on Thursday — 6:01 a.m. in Germany — when free agency begins to show Nowitzki how sincere the club is about keeping its all-time leading scorer and rebounder.

He’d obviously scrap the trip if Nowitzki decides to be elsewhere, but the Mavs hope that being there sends a strong message.

“He is our No. 1 priority — period,” Nelson said.

Dallas had been discussing an extension with Nowitzki, but it would’ve been for only three years. He can get a four-year contract as a free agent, and perhaps a no-trade clause, something his existing deal lacks.

Nowitzki hitting the market could be a good thing for the Mavericks, but it also creates the chance he could leave, like his buddy Steve Nash did in 2004.