Dirk Nowitzki expected back Mid-December

Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

Dirk talked to the press today about his rehab, and the bad news is that it seem as if he will be taking the "long" estimate on the short and long numbers throw out here and on other Mavs sites. That is, the 3-6 week rehab is going to be 6. Tough as Dirk is, there's no doubt that he would be back earlier if he possibly could. So it goes when you're 34.

The good news is, this is still a normal recovery. He hasn't had a setback, and everything looks good. Yes, it will probably be January before he is clicking with this offense and we're all PROBABLY going to feel a lot worse about this after next week, when the Mavs' time around .500 probably comes momentarily to a close against the Knicks, Lakers, 76ers and Bulls.

This does seem like more time than expected, and here's the reason: Dirk will not recover from his surgery AND be in basketball shape. You don't do much running on the treadmill with a surgically repaired knee until it's actually surgically repaired.

Keep checking in as to what this all means. The short of it is that the Mavs are indeed likely looking at an uphill climb to make the playoffs, though not yet certainly a steep one. There are 12 games between now and December 15th, and not a whole lot of cheapies outside of a Dec. 10 visit by the Kings and a Dec. 14 visit to the Raptors. 8 of the 10 games between Nov. 27th and Dec. 15th are roadies, at which the new-look Mavericks have not yet performed well, currently 2-4. It's bad news.

The good news is, Mavs fans WILL, barring setbacks, get an early Christmas present, there will still be approximately 60 games in the season, and this is the first time anything like this has happened in the Dirk era, and why not this year?

P.S. Before anyone posts about tanking, remember that 60 games is a lot of games, but more importantly, that if the Mavericks had the #1 pick in the 2003 NBA draft, they would have traded down to draft Luke Walton three times. The Mavs front office is good at many things, but drafting is not one of them. And by drafting is not one of them, I mean they draft like blind wildebeests who hate drafting good players.

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