DALLAS (CBS SPORTS) – We’ve reached the next timeframe for considering retirement of a great group of players. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki are all within range of hanging it up at this point, and the question of “when?” will continue until they make their heartfelt farewells.

But Nowizki said Sunday he has ideas about playing beyond this current contract:

“I had some doubts here when I came back,” Nowitzki said. “It took so long. Is it ever going to come back? It was a tough stretch for me coming back from the surgery. But the way I feel now, I still think I can play a couple of years.

“I’ve got this year and next year under contract, so I’ll be 36 and for sure play a couple of more years.”

Nowitzki even mentioned the possibility of becoming a 40-year-old role player.

“Yeah, I mean, we’ll see how it goes,” he said. “Like I said, when my contract’s up, I’ll definitely sign a couple more years. It’s still fun, but I don’t know if I’ll play until 40. But [I’ll] definitely sign one more deal, maybe two or three years.”

This is going to get awkward for Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

Cuban has said, over and over again, he’d never let Dirk go, that he’ll be a Maverick for life. But at some point, Cuban has to face reality and start a rebuilding process. And that’s going to be difficult with Nowitzki on an eight-figure contract.

Nowitzki has slipped this season, following knee surgery. Things were rough last year, with an extended celebration following the 2011 title blending into a difficult lockout-shortened schedule. But Nowitzki could very well have a bounce-back year like Tim Duncan’s had. Playing until he’s 40? That sounds like a stretch. But it does look like we’ll have Dirk to kick around for a few more years.

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