Nowitzki is staying with the Mavericks

Dirk Nowitzki, the most decorated European-born player in NBA history, is staying with the Dallas Mavericks. Now he hopes to lure an elite free agent to join him in Texas. Holger Geschwinder, Nowitzki's agent, confirmed to The Associated Press that the nine-time All-Star and 2007 Most Valuable Player has ended his brief fling with free agency and committed to a four-year contract with Dallas worth at least US$80 million (Dh294m).

"I think it's a great deal," Geschwinder said. "We're pumped." Nowitzki, a 32-year-old German, is known to be interested in helping the Mavericks recruit one of the other elite free agents, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh. James, the top prize in the talent chase, entertained officials on Saturday from two more teams, the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The two-time MVP has played his entire, seven-year NBA career in Cleveland.

James has been wooed by six clubs; he is not known to have talks scheduled with any other team and has given no deadline for choosing a team. Nowitzki's Mavericks do not have space under the NBA salary cap to sign a leading free agent, but they have players attractive enough to enable them to swing a sign-and-trade deal. Wade, meanwhile, had talks with four teams: the New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets, Chicago and the Miami Heat, his current team.

Wade told a television station in Chicago that he expected to make a decision this week. Teams and free agents can strike deals at any time, but cannot sign them until Thursday, after the salary cap for the coming season is set. Among other top players remaining on the open market are the power forwards Amare Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer, the centre David Lee, and the guards Joe Johnson and Ray Allen.

* Agencies

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