Dirk Nowitzki is willing to wait out his swollen right knee while Dallas Maverick fans and coaches hold their universal breaths that the big German will not need arthroscopic surgery. At age 34 Nowitzki is undoubtedly in the tail end of his remarkable career but as of now the Mavericks are still Dirk’s team. As Dirk goes so will the Mavs.
“I’m doing everything I can not to have surgery,” Nowitzki told ESPNMonday after sitting out a second consecutive preseason game due to the knee. “I guess that’s obvious that I really don’t want it done now. If I want to do it, I would love to do it after the season, get through the season somehow, but the swelling came back three or four times now. That’s obviously not good news.If it’s going to keep swelling up on me, that’s obviously not a way to go throughout an 82-game season and hopefully long playoff run.”
There won’t be any long playoff run if the knee is an issue all season and I can denote it will be an issue unless a doctor goes in and finds out what the problem is, right now. The troublesome knee has already been drained twice and Dirk says there won’t be a third time. That means without surgery Nowitzki will trust his balky knee night after night on the hardwood of the NBA. Without getting the knee fixed it appears likely to me Nowitzki will miss multiple games scattered around the season. The Mavericks can’t afford that.
Two years removed from winning the NBA Title the Mavericks are going to be a reach to make the playoffs this season WITH a healthy and productive Nowitzki. Without him they are a lottery team for the first time since 1999, Nowitzki’s rookie year.
Who will play the Power Forward position in Dirks absence? Most of the minutes would go to 33-year-old Elton Brand. Nowitzki’s knees are like gold compared to Brand’s, who averaged 28 productive minutes with Philadelphia as a starter last season. Dallas will need more than 28 minutes from Brand if Dirk is out. I like Brandan Wright, but the 25-year-old played in a career high 49 games last season for Dallas and is not ready to step into such a major role.
The answer is to shut Dirk down right now. Today. Go get the knee scoped. Hopefully it’s a minor issue that can be fixed and causes Nowitzki to miss 3 to 6 weeks. Worse case? There is structural damage to the knee and he misses the season. If that’s the news, then that’s the news. Coach Rick Carlisle can then move on and try to build the team this season around O.J. Mayo and the three rookies taken in the last draft, Bernard James, Jae Crowder and Jared Cunningham.
“Once they look in there, it might be a lot worse, might be a lot better. I guess that nobody really knows [the recovery time].”, Nowitzki said. “No doctor in the world can tell you”.
Do it now. Dallas will be at the Lakers to open the season on October 30. With or without Dirk.