Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki successfully underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee today. His initial timetable is six weeks though he may be able to return to the floor in as early as four weeks. That is being awfully optimistic, though.
Unlike Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love, whose injury also affects the complexion of the Western Conference playoff race, Nowitzki’s surgery was always a realistic possibility. Nowitzki experienced discomfort in his right knee at the beginning of Mavericks training camp, an injury that was a recurring issue last season. It affected his performance then and for the first two months of the season, Nowitzki was a shell of his former self.
With approximately 44,000 minutes under his belt (including playoffs), the toil of an entire season was likely too much for Nowitzki’s knee to withstand. The Mavericks will need Nowitzki to earn a playoff berth and they put themselves in decent position by taking the precautionary route and repairing his knee surgically prior to the season. Of course, the surgery could have been accomplished during the offseason, thus allowing Nowitzki to play an entire 82-game slate, but nonetheless. It’s done and that is a good thing.
The good news: The Mavericks will play the Bobcats, Blazers, Raptors, Wizards, Cavaliers, Warriors and potentially the Ricky Rubio and Love-less Timberwolves in the likely 16-game stint without Nowitzki. (Nowitzki’s timetable sets him up for a return on Nov. 30.)
The bad news: They will also play the Los Angeles Lakers twice in this span.
For the time being, the Dallas will rely on their deep backcourt. Without Nowitzki — also adding insult to injury is center Chris Kaman, whose already sprained his back and strained his calf since the beginning of training camp — the Mavericks figure to be without a legitimate interior option. Elton Brand, 33, is an elite post defender but he should not be relied upon to score points. Last season’s incumbent center Brendan Haywood was waived via amnesty.
As Dallas will be vying for one of the final playoff spots, this news isn’t great. But it could be worse. The Utah Jazz, meanwhile, are in a much better position given the recent rash of injuries in the Western Conference.