Dirk Nowitzki

Nowitzki plans return mid-December, wants to play to 2016

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When Dirk Nowitzki underwent knee surgery during training camp, he was expected to be out until December, but Mavericks officials were hopeful he could be back closer to Thanksgiving.

Turns out the original timeline was even a little optimistic.

Nowitzki spoke with the media Tuesday and said it would be close to a month, mid-December before he suits up to play in a Mavs game. He once again said rehab is not going as fast as he hoped, and he wants to be fully healthy before he returns.

The reason he is taking his time is he wants to play through 2016. All this from the Dallas Morning News.

“Well, unfortunately not as soon as we all hoped, I think,” Nowitzki said when asked when he might return to the court.

“I think originally when the last statement we put out was it’s going to take six weeks before I do any basketball activity. Unfortunately, I tried, but I couldn’t cut the time down….

“Saying all that, I think I’m still about two weeks out before even getting on the court and start working out, start running, start shooting,” he said. “That would put me right at six weeks before I get on the court. By that point, I’m assuming I need a good week or two to get in halfway decent playing shape running and shooting and doing all sorts of stuff.”

As for taking it slow to make sure he is fully healed.

“I’m hoping maybe after these two years (of his current contract) to play a couple more years. So it would be the wrong thing now to push it and come back too early and maybe make something worse for the long term.”

Dallas is 6-6 without Nowtizki on the season.

Some injuries heal faster than others (don’t ask Sixers fans about that right now) and Nowitzki is right to take his time and make sure he is healed before stepping on the court. The Mavericks are working hard to rebuild a contender, they have cap space the next couple years and the chance to play and win with Nowitzki is one of the draws.

So Nowitzki and the Mavericks are doing the right thing. As frustrating as that may be right now to Mavs fans.

Chris Paul finds brilliant counter to hack-a-DeAndre Jordan (video)

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I originally favored allowing Hack-a-Shaq as the NBA currently does. I found the strategy fascinated – why and when teams would use it and how their opponents would counter.

But it just became too common. Far too many games featured a parade of trips to the line, a boring stretch that made games too long. I thought the intrigue had run its course.

Then, Chris Paul pulled this move last night.

The Clippers guard saw Jonas Jerebko charging toward DeAndre Jordan to commit an intentional foul, so Paul stepped in front of an unsuspecting Jerebko and took the foul himself. That’s sent a good free-throw shooter to the line instead of the dismal Jordan.

Just an awesome heady play by Paul.

PBT Podcast: NBA All-Star Weekend talk, predictions with Sean Highkin

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NBA All-Star weekend descends upon frigid Toronto starting Friday, with everything from the Rookie/Sophomore… er, Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, the Dunk Contest/Three-Point Contest on Saturday, and the main event on Sunday.

Kurt Helin and Sean Highkin of NBC’s ProBasketballTalk break it all down, from Pau Gasol replacing Jimmy Butler to predictions on the Dunk Contest and if anyone can knock off Zach LaVine. Plus, there is plenty of “why Sting?” talk.

PBT will be in Toronto with reports from the event all weekend, so come back early and often for all the latest (plus trade talk, as all the GMs get together in one city where it’s too cold for them to go outside).

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunesdownload it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.

Pistons retire Chauncey Billups’ jersey at halftime (VIDEO)

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Moments before his jersey went up to the rafters, Chauncey Billups spoke to the crowd about the night the Detroit Pistons wrapped up the 2004 NBA title by routing the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of the Finals.

“We had one motivation,” he said. “We wanted to win it here at home.”

Billups was the most valuable player in the Finals that year, and he had his No. 1 jersey retired by the Pistons on Wednesday night at halftime of their game against Denver.

He was the second player from that 2004 team honored by the Pistons this year. The Pistons retired Ben Wallace’s jersey last month at a similar ceremony – in front of a packed house on a night Detroit beat Golden State.

There were some empty seats in the upper level Wednesday, but Billups wanted to be honored while the Pistons were playing the Nuggets. Billups is a Denver native and played for the Nuggets for two stints during his career.

“This was by design, only because there’s a lot of people that contributed to my success as a player and as a man, in Denver, my hometown,” Billups said before the game. “There were several dates that I could have chosen. This one obviously stuck out.”

Billups does have a mild regret about his run of success with the Pistons. He figures they could have won more titles.

“I felt like, two and maybe three championships – we were that good,” he said.

Ben Wallace was on hand Wednesday, and so were Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince from the 2004 champions. Pistons great Isiah Thomas was also at the Palace for the ceremony.

“This is what tradition looks like,” Thomas told the crowd. “This is what it feels like.”