DALLAS -– Rick Carlisle set the tone for his pre-game press conference tonight with an ominous opening statement.
“Dirk’s not playing tonight,’’ the Dallas Mavericks’ coach said, referring to forward Dirk Nowitzki. “He’ll talk to you after the game.
Nowitzki has been battling swelling and soreness in his right knee that forced him to miss last Tuesday’s preseason game against FC Barcelona Regal. It also forced him to sit out tonight’s game against the Houston Rockets, which tips off at 7:30 at American Airlines Center.
However, the big question is whether or not Nowitzki has come to the conclusion that the only way to solve his medical situation is to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery. But as Carlisle explained,
Nowitzki plans to talk about his immediate future after tonight’s game.
“He’ll talk to you afterwards,’’ Carlisle said. “I can’t talk about it.’’
Last week Nowitzki said if he was going to undergo surgery, he would rather do it quick so he could have a chance to return for the Oct. 30 regular season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The way Carlisle sounded, it fueled speculation that Nowitzki has indeed decided to have surgery. If so, that will have a very large impact on this organization going forward.
“We’ve just got to play basketball,’’ center Brandan Wright said. “I know he’s got a lot of uncertainty with his knee and stuff like that.
“We don’t really know what’s going to happen with it. If it goes well or if it doesn’t, we’ve just got to be prepared to play without him.’’
Elton Brand will start in Nowitzki’s power forward spot tonight. And if Nowitzki isn’t available for the regular season opener, Carlisle said: “That’s a question that there’s a lot of different ways to go with that.
“First of all let’s not make that assumption, necessarily. There’s a lot of different things we can do.’’
Carlisle said he used Vince Carter and Dahntay Jones in the first two preseason games at power forward. Shawn Marion and Wright also can play the position.
Carlisle also squashed any ideas that the eight new Mavericks are suffering a setback because they’ve only played one preseason game with Nowitzki.
“He’s been at every practice,’’ Carlisle said. “He was at shootaround this morning.’’
-- Dwain Price
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