Rather than wait and hope it heals like it did last season, Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks are being proactive.
Nowitzki underwent arthroscopic surgery to his right knee Friday morning and will be out for about six weeks, the team announced Friday. That timeframe has him returning around the start of December. That would have him missing around 16 games.
This is the smart move — better to deal with it now than let everything linger. Nowitzki has been dealing with swelling in his right knee all preseason and had it drained twice. Last season a similar thing happened but Nowtizki took time off, changed his training routine and was able to solve the problem, this time it’s not working.
This is going to hurt the Mavs in the short term, make no mistake. As our own Darius Soriano pointed out, the Mavericks he were 8.8 points per 100 possessions better when Nowitzki was on the floor last season as opposed when he was on the bench. That was not just scoring — Dallas’s defense was 2.8 points per 100 better when Nowitzki was on the floor Stats courtesy the NBA.com stats tool.
No Nowitzki means more of the offensive load in Dallas is going to fall to O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison, who will have to create shots for everyone. Dallas is going to need a lot more out of Brandan Wright.
The challenge for Dallas is not falling so far behind in the playoff chase in a deep Western Conference that they can’t climb back in. Dallas and Minnesota — without Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio to start the season — will be playing catch up likely for one of the last couple of playoff spots in the West. The teams who have to take advantage are the Jazz and the Golden State Warriors (who need to get Andrew Bogut back, he may miss the start of the season).
The release of NBA 2K17, the latest edition of the popular 2K video-game series, is less than a month away. Players are starting to get their likenesses in the game, as well as their player ratings, and tweet them out. Magic forward Evan Fournier wasn’t too happy with the way his came out.
Fournier’s countryman Rudy Gobert got in on the fun, too, changing his Twitter avatar to Fournier’s screenshot and encouraging others to do the same. He even created a hashtag for it.
At least they’re having fun with it.
On Friday, the Jazz traded German center Tibor Pleiss to the Sixers along with two second-round picks for Kendall Marshall. The big draw of the trade for Philly was the picks, and Pleiss is not expected to stay with the Sixers, according to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia’s Jessica Camerato.
Pleiss had a forgettable season with Utah, and the Sixers have a glut of bigs including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. It would have been virtually impossible for Pleiss to crack the rotation, and it’s unlikely another team picks up his contract, which has $3 million guaranteed this season.
As a Jordan Brand athlete, Russell Westbrook is under the same Nike umbrella as former teammate Kevin Durant. But his latest Jordan spot, released Friday, has a very pointed tagline: “Some run, some make runways.”
Given the circumstances, it’s hard to interpret that as anything other than a reference to Durant signing with the Warriors and Westbrook signing an extension with the Thunder.
For two decades, Kobe Bryant saw everyone and everything as an obstacle to overcome: The Pacers, Sixers, Nets, Magic, Celtics, Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich, Smush Parker, a torn Achilles. It didn’t matter. Kobe’s work ethic and drive had him rising above it all.
His focus hasn’t changed now. Kobe was on the Jim Rome show, and the topic of the new-look Warriors with Kevin Durant came up, along with the “woe is me” attitude of some players (and plenty of owners and GMs).
“I would have thought less about myself if I looked at that move and said, ‘That’s unfair,'” he said. “If you’re a real competitor, you look at that and say, ‘OK, lace ’em up. Let’s go. I don’t care how many players you have over there; we’re still going to take you down.'”
Easier said than done to make that happen, but that attitude is the only one to have if you think you have a chance. You can be sure LeBron James is thinking that way and telling his Cavaliers teammates the same.
We’re going to miss Kobe.