It appears veteran forward Dirk Nowitzki may not be ready for opening day of the regular season. ESPN’s Tim MacMahon and Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News had the following to say last night:
Dirk Nowitzki's availability for the Mavericks' season opener is in doubt as he continues to recover from April ankle surgery. He has yet to practice with the team and will not on the China trip. "This is weeks, not days, as far as getting on the court for live action," coach...— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) October 3, 2018
Weeks, not days, before Dirk Nowitzki will return, both Dirk and Rick Carlisle say.— Eddie Sefko (@ESefko) October 3, 2018
The phrasing of “weeks” is key here, as there are only two weeks until the Dallas season opener. It’s within the realm of possibility Nowitzki progresses enough in his rehab to suit up for the start of the season. However, if both player and coach are emphasizing the work “weeks” it feels reasonable to predict it may be a while before we see Dirk step on the floor.
It’s hard to say whether or not this news is surprising. Dirk Nowitzki is 40 years old and recovering from off season ankle surgery. On September 21st at the Mavericks media day Dirk had this to say about his rehab:
It’s actually right on schedule, we took it extremely slow. There was nothing this summer I had to be ready for. We started off slow and ramped it up and the end of July, beginning of August, start running, cutting. I had a minor setback last week, I played a little bit. Now my tendons are sore in my ankle so I haven’t don’t much since last week.
It would seem that this “minor” setback was either worse than we were lead to believe or has not responded to treatment in a satisfactory way.
Dirk is battling not only his body but history as he attempts to play his 21st season. Robert Parrish played just 43 games in his final season, while Kevin Garnett played only 39 contests. Kevin Willis played in just five contests in his final season.
We’ll hope to see him back in action soon, but given his age and long history with ankle ailments, it could be some time before Dirk is scoring points for Dallas again.