DALLAS (AP)  Dirk Nowitzki is excited about defending the NBA title. He’s also curious to find out who is going to defend it with him.

Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea and Caron Butler are all free agents and may not be back with the Dallas Mavericks. With owner Mark Cuban trying to clear the salary cap for next offseason, those guys are likely to get longer, more lucrative deals elsewhere.

Nowitzki said he understands the dilemma Cuban is facing and realizes how difficult it is.

He also joked about the contract he signed last summer for less than the maximum to help the Mavs be able to sign quality teammates. Said Nowitzki: “I guess I didn’t take less enough.”

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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