Dirk Nowitzki practiced yesterday for the first time since he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery before the season began. The Dallas Mavericks' star has missed the entire season so far as his recovery process has taken longer than expected. However, yesterday's return to the practice court was a major step in the right direction.
According to Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Nowitzki participated in light drills with no contact. He has not yet been cleared to participate in full-contact practice. Once he is, Nowitzki's timetable will be more clear. As it stands now, Price does not think Nowitzki will play this month at all. The Mavericks and Nowitzki are not rushing the return either.
"This is the first day where we stopped and pushing off and moving, and I must now see how it reacts," Nowitzki said. "I'll do that a couple of times and do some contact for a while, and maybe any time after Christmas I can finally get at least a couple of practices under my belt."Nowitzki is the catalyst for the Mavericks offense. His absence has been tough for Dallas to battle through, but they've held their own. The team is 12-13 and just one game out of the playoff picture. It's early in the season, and a lot can change, but Dallas hopes to hang in there long enough for Nowitzki to return and hopefully propel them back into the postseason.
Nowitzki has averaged 22.9 points per game in his career and 8.3 rebounds per game. He is a perennial All-Star and the reason why the Mavericks have been in the postseason in all but two of his seasons in Dallas. His return can mean the difference between a successful year and missing the playoffs for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.