DALLAS -- Less than two weeks into the season, and that truncated 66-game NBA season is already creating controversy.
Players and coaches have complained that an inordinate amount of injuries have cropped up because so many games have been compressed into a short period of time. It's had some thinking that the lockout only ended because the NBA could receive a big payday with their Christmas Day schedule, and the league never had the players' health and well being in mind.
"We know this league is about money, so the more games that they get the more money they make," Dallas Mavericks All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki said. "So it's really not about the product that much to them.
"It is a lot of games. But I think every team's got to deal with it now, and we've just got to be better."
The Mavs, who host New Orleans at 8 tonight, just finished playing six games in eight days. They appeared worn down and looked as if they were running in quicksand in the final game of that stretch during Thursday's 93-71 loss to San Antonio.
Nowitzki stopped short of saying the fans are being cheated, but it seems unrealistic to expect the players to be at the top of their game when the jam-packed schedule doesn't allow for ample rest between games.
"It's tough, especially for a team that's got a lot of veterans on it," Nowitzki said. "But it is what it is."
The Mavs have a stretch from Feb. 28-March 10 where they play nine games in only 12 days and in seven different cities. Still, guard Jason Terry said: "This is the schedule that's been presented before us.
"Again, as players we've got to go out there and do the best you can with the circumstances what they are. And hey, we're professionals."
Professionals who probably would have benefited -- health-wise, anyway -- had the league decided to play a 50-game schedule as was played in the 1998-'99 lockout-shorten season. Especially since 19 key players across the league have already suffered injuries this season.
"You started feeling it a little bit in the legs," center Ian Mahinmi said. "But that's what we get paid for.
"We're just going to keep fighting. And on a day off like [Friday] you want to take care of your body and make sure you are recharged and ready to come fight [tonight]."
Mavs officially sign Yi
The Mavs made it official Friday by signing Chinese center Yi Jianlian to a one-year contract.
The 7-foot, 250-pounder was the sixth pick of the 2007 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks. However, Yi had his best season two years ago when he averaged 12 points and 7.2 rebounds while playing 52 games for the New Jersey Nets.
Yi will report to the Frisco-based Texas Legends of the D-League to work on conditioning. The Mavs have no timetable on when he'll be activated to play in the NBA again.
Kidd out tonight
Mavs point guard Jason Kidd won't play tonight because of a lower back injury.
Kidd, who turns 39 in March, suffered the injury in the first period of Thursday's 22-point loss to the San Antonio Spurs and was last seen walking gingerly out of the AT&T Center.
Rodrigue Beaubois, Jason Terry, Delonte West and Dominique Jones are the likely candidates to be the Mavs' playmaker against New Orleans.
Tonight's game starts at 8 because it is the second half of a hockey/basketball day-night doubleheader at American Airlines Center.
The Stars play the Edmonton Oilers at 1 p.m. Following a quick change of playing surfaces, the Mavs will play 30 minutes later than their normal tip-off for home games.
Williams sent down
Center Sean Williams has been assigned to the Texas Legends of the D-League.
Signed on Dec. 21, Williams, who played high school ball at Mansfield, played three games for the Mavs and averaged 4.7 points and 2.0 rebounds in 5.7 minutes while shooting 71.4 percent from the field.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760