Eddie Sefko of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram report:

dirk nowitzki

For the first time in 12 years, Dirk Nowitzki will not be a Dallas Maverick when the clock strikes 11 tonight.

His free agency, confirmed Tuesday when his notification that he will opt out of the final year of his contract arrived at the Mavericks’ office, is not expected to last long. In fact, when he wakes up Thursday morning in Germany, he’ll likely have a handshake deal waiting for him…

The first step was for Nowitzki to inform the Mavericks he would opt out. The letter was faxed about noon Tuesday. He surrendered his 2010-11 salary of $21.5 million.

It’s a smart move on his part, because he now can sign a new four-year contract that could (and likely will) include a no-trade clause. He’ll also be capable of earning about $96 million over the next four years, money that would not be subject to any changes in the salary structure that could come next summer in collective-bargaining negotiations.