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.

Report: Kevin McHale also in mix for team president in Orlando

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Cavaliers GM David Griffin — who doesn’t have a contract with the team beyond this year, but who LeBron James has endorsed — is on their radar.

Larry Bird, who is stepping down in Indiana, is a potential target.

You can add Kevin McHale to the list of former NBA executives the Orlando Magic are taking a look at in their search for a new head of basketball operations, reports Sam Amick of the USA Today.

The Orlando Magic have serious interest in Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Kevin McHale for their team president position, according to two people with knowledge of the situation….But McHale, who served as Minnesota Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations from 1995 to 2008 while also serving as the team’s head coach on two occasions, is known to be on the Timberwolves’ short list as well. The Magic would strongly prefer someone who has previously been a general manager for the president position.

But McHale, who served as Minnesota Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations from 1995 to 2008 while also serving as the team’s head coach on two occasions, is known to be on the Timberwolves’ short list as well. The Magic would strongly prefer someone who has previously been a general manager for the president position.

McHale made some franchise-defining moves as the head man in Minnesota — he drafted Kevin Garnett and he brought Flip Saunders into the organization, he brought in Sam Cassell and Latrell Spreewell and that got the Timberwolves to the conference finals in 2004, to use a few examples.

He had his share of mistakes, too. Like drafting Ray Allen then trading him for Stephon Marbury, or drafting Brandon Roy and trading him for Randy Foye.

The Orlando roster has talent on it — Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic, maybe Elfrid Payton — and a quality coach in place with Frank Vogel. That said the talent on the roster does not fit and Orlando desperately needed someone willing to shake things up, who wasn’t too invested in “their guys” to realize the roster’s serious shortcomings.

McHale could do that. It looks like we are a month or more from finding out, however, as Griffin isn’t going anywhere until after the Cavaliers season — which likely extends into June. If the Magic are serious about him, this process is going to drag out.

Joel Embiid was hanging out with Philly fans at the NFL Draft

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Joel Embiid is a man of the people.

And last night the people in Philadelphia were all Eagles fans, watching the NFL Draft unfold.

Embiid was out there with them. Literally.

Ben Simmons was there as well with Embiid, according to CSNPhilly.com.

Philadelphia fans can only hope the Eagles draft as well — and have WAY better injury luck — than the Sixers.

Moving to new arena, Detroit Pistons submit bids to host 2020 or 2021 All-Star Game

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DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Pistons have put in bids to host a future NBA All-Star Game at Little Caesars Arena.

The team says in a release Friday that bids were submitted to the league for 2020 and 2021.

Little Caesars Arena is being built just north of downtown Detroit and is expected to open this year. It also will be home to the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings.

In November, the Pistons announced the team was moving back to Detroit from The Palace of Auburn Hills.

The city of Detroit last hosted the NBA’s All-Star Game in 1959. The 1979 game was played in Pontiac when the Pistons’ home court was the Silverdome.

NBA All-Star events include the All-Star Game, NBA Rising Stars Challenge, a celebrity game, skills competition and fan events.

PBT Extra: Does Larry Bird stepping down change Paul George question in Indiana?

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When the Woj bomb dropped that Larry Bird was stepping down as president of the Indiana Pacers, two questions came to mind. First was, “Is he healthy?” Reportedly he is, this was not a healthy-related decision. Which is great news.

Second, what does that mean for Paul George?

Is Indiana more likely to trade him now? Less?

George speculation has ramped up around the league and — while no doubt new GM Kevin Pritchard will say he would love to keep PG13 when he speaks to the media — there is a sense Bird walking away could be a sign that the Pacers are moving into rebuilding mode. That said, Pritchard is known for driving a hard bargain, he’s not going DeMarcus Cousins trade here.

I talk about all of that and more in this latest PBT Extra.