DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki said Tuesday afternoon that he's hopeful of being able to be back on the court and playing in a game by the middle of December.
Nowitzki spoke to the media to give an update surrounding the arthroscopic right knee surgery he underwent on Oct. 19. The Dallas Mavericks' 11-time All-Star was very candid about his rehabilitation and about the frutrations he's absorbed during this most difficult period of his life.
"It’s tough to really say how long it’s going to take until I get back,'' Nowitzki said. "From the
beginning the goal is that the swelling has to be gone 100 percent and the
strength has to be back 100 percent.
"And once that goal is reached, then I can obviously think about playing again. But I think we’re still far away from that.''
Nowitzki has already missed 12 games, and the Mavs are 6-6 in his absence. If the 15-year veteran doesn't return until the middle of December, that means he could possibly miss another 12 games and may not play his first game this season until a Dec. 18 home game against the Philadelphia 76ers.
If that's the case, that means Nowitzki will have missed over one-third of the season, and the Mavs' playoff chances could be in serious jeopardy.
"I think I’m still about two weeks out before even getting on the court and start working out, start running, start shooting,'' Nowitzki said. "That would put me right at six weeks before I get on the court.
"By that point I’m assuming I need a good week or two to get in halfway decent playing shape
running and shooting and doing all sorts of stuff. I was obviously hoping to cut that time a lot shorter.''
The Mavs have been woefully inconsistent without their superstar forward. One game they beat the star-studded Los Angeles Lakers on the road, and then the next game they lose at home to NBA bottom-feeders such as Minnesota and Golden State, not to mention a road game in Charlotte.
"It’s been a frustrating time for me, especially watching and nothing I can really do,'' Nowitzki said. "So there’s been some hard days, some frustrating days.
“But I think now it’s gotten better this last week or so and now I guess I’m seeing the end of the tunnel. But there were some frustrating times at the beginning.''
There's also been some frustrating times for the Mavs, who were already trying to fit nine new players into the mix. And trying to establish some cohesiveness without their No. 1 go-to player has been extremly difficult for the Mavs.
"I like the guys we have and I have a strong belief that we can do a lot better than we're doing right now,'' coach Rick Carlisle said. "The three areas are second-chance, fast break and turnovers, and we've got to make up ground there.''
A healthy Nowitzki would enable the Mavs to make up some ground. But he first has to get himself right.
“I guess after every surgery you have some ups and downs,'' Nowitzki said. "You have some good days and you do a little more and you have a couple bad days.
"And there were tons of bad days there a couple weeks ago. But it’s getting better and that’s why we increased the workload starting yesterday.''
-- Dwain Price
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