According to Eddie Sefko of the Dallas News Mavericks Blog, Nowitzki's right knee has been sore and swollen for the second consecutive season. This time, the big man could be looking at minor knee surgery as the only resolution to the issue.
While the word "minor" is good news for Mavs fans, "minor" knee surgeries still come with a price. Nowitzki would likely miss at least a few weeks should he choose to undergo the operation that would relieve his ailing knee.
Nowitzki stressed the need for quick decision making about whether to get the surgery now or wait until after the season, telling Dallas News:
We’ll see how it responds... But the longer we wait, obviously the worse it is. If we have to do something, it’d be better to do it quick.
We’re still hopeful that this is a temporary thing. If we relax and rest it for a week and see how it goes, then we’ll have a better idea.
Obviously the news that Nowitzki is dealing with a nagging injury at all is discouraging for Mavs fans, but any time off during the regular season will be a huge blow to the team's ceiling this season.
What are the Mavericks without Dirk Nowitzki?
Despite missing out on the biggest names of the offseason like Dwight Howard and Deron Williams, the Mavericks still brought in plenty of new talent that will need to assimilate with the current roster. Part of that assimilation will be learning to play with Nowitzki, whose talents and skill set are highly unique.
When Nowitzki is out, no one on the roster has the type of skill set to come in and replace him. When he is on the floor, the team plays through him. Without him the entire style of the team is different.
Should Nowitzki miss time, they will have to go through the process of building chemistry twice—once without Nowitzki in the lineup and then again with Nowitzki in the lineup. In the ultra-competitive Western Conference, there's no time for adapting and assimilating. The Mavericks will need to win right away.
The Mavericks' training staff will need to be careful and make the best decisions possible to ensure that Nowitzki is on the court as early and often as he can. Otherwise, it could be a long season in Dallas.