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The Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki will miss several games this season as he continues to rehab his left ankle after a surgical debridement in April.
The surgery was for impingement in the ankle caused by bone spurs. Bone spurs in the ankle can cause pain with running, jumping and lateral movements, all of which are critical to basketball players. While the procedure was described as being relatively minor, the recovery is still ongoing.
“There’s no real soft or hard date [for Nowitzki’s return] at this point,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said Friday, according to ESPN. “He is doing better but has not done any significant court work. His rehab work is ongoing, and we can update you in another 10 days.”
Nowitzki, 40, was clearly feeling good enough to start playing. Unfortunately, he developed some soreness during pickup ball right before training camp started. Because of that, he has not practiced in training camp or the preseason.
It is very likely that age is catching up with the sixth-leading scorer in NBA history.
For most of his career, Nowitzki was able to avoid injury. Unfortunately, coming back from an ankle injury to NBA game shape is definitely more difficult for a 40-year-old than for someone in their 20s.
His slow return is probably due to a combination of biology and team management. Knowing that Nowitzki averaged 24.7 minutes per game last season, the fewest since his rookie year, the Mavericks likely won’t rush his return. Given that he has yet to really work out with the team, my guess is that the earliest we will see Nowitzki playing significant minutes will be mid-November.