As Nowitzki’s knee ails, can Mavericks survive?
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
The Dirk Nowitzki knee issue looms on.
The Dallas Mavericks forward sat out of Monday’s 123-104 preseason win against the Houston Rockets. Afterward, he gave reporters a grim update. From the Dallas Morning News:
And the swelling has returned, which means there remains a possibility of arthroscopic surgery even after having fluid drained from the joint twice since training camp started.
“The knee didn’t really respond great the last couple of days,” Nowitzki said after the Mavericks’ 123-104 preseason win over Houston. “I basically practiced full, and there’s a little swelling in there again. So the good news is there’s not as much as last week in Barcelona. I guess that’s a little positive. I’m just going to see if it gets any better the next couple days before we do another decision.”
Asked when a decision would be made on whether surgery is necessary, he said: “I guess after this week. Regardless, I’m doing everything I can conservatively not to have surgery. That’s obvious, that I don’t want it done now. If I want to do it, I want to try to get through the season somehow. But the swelling came back three or four times now, so that’s not good news.
“If it’s going to keep swelling up on me, that’s obviously not a way to go through an 82-game season and hopefully a long playoff run. We’ll see how it responds to a reduced work load this week.”
So maybe it’s time to discuss replacement options. And the Mavericks have a few, though no one could handle the load Nowitzki carries.
Elton Brand was added this offseason. He’s 33, a year younger than Nowitzki. But Brand plays like he’s 40. HIs knees are shot, and the Philadelphia 76ers did well to limit him 28.9 minutes a game even as a starter last year. That said, he’s effective. Good, even. Brand always has been a terrific offensive rebounder, and he can score in the paint.
But Brandan Wright might be a more natural replacement. Wright’s 25, but his injury history reads like a retiring defensive tackle’s. The skinny former North Carolina standout played a career-high 49 … [For more on As Dirk Nowitzki's knee ails, can Mavericks survive without him?, click here.]