DALLAS -- The bad news swept across the Dallas Mavericks headquarters with all the passion of a race car driver on an open track.
Dirk Nowitzki has been grounded after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Friday morning. The 7-foot forward is expected to be sidelined for six weeks.
It is a devastating blow for the Mavs, who were already trying to incorporate eight new players.
"It's never going to be easy to lose a game-changer for six weeks," coach Rick Carlisle said. "We know that, but we're going to have to make up for it in other areas. We're going to have to play with grit and guts, and we're going to have to raise our level of efficiency in all areas. We're going to be smallish a lot and we're going to have to make that work for us."
The regular season starts Oct. 30 when the Mavs travel to Los Angeles to play a nationally televised game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
"Six weeks, that's a lot of games," center Brandan Wright said. "We've got guys that need to step up and keep improving. We've got to play hard, we've got to lift our level, we've got to get some guys stepping up, we've got to focus more and we just got to stay healthy."
Nowitzki had been experiencing swelling and soreness in his right knee almost from the time training camp started. The 15-year veteran had his knee drained twice, and was hoping to avoid surgery.
But the knee wouldn't respond to treatment and the swelling continued.
Carlisle said: "34-year old guys that are in the Top 10 players on the planet never die. Dirk is going to know when the right time to come back is."
Forward Vince Carter said it's up to the veterans to keep the ship afloat until Nowitzki returns. He also noted that there's no pressure on the remaining players.
"I'm sure y'all are expecting us not to be good now, so where is the pressure?" Carter asked. "It isn't, so you've just got to go out there and play basketball. No one is giving us a chance, with or without [Nowitzki]. So for us we just have to go out here and play basketball and let the chips fall as they may."
Nowitzki has been known to be a fast healer. But the Mavs will be careful with their all-time leading scorer.
"He's not going to be out here until he's ready to be out here," Carlisle said.
Kaman hurt again
Center Chris Kaman missed Friday's practice with a strained right calf. The 7-footer did not make the trip to Atlanta, where the Mavs play in preseason against the Hawks at 6 tonight.
Kaman missed practice time earlier in training camp with a sprained lower back.
Rick Carlisle said Kaman's calf has "been bothering him for a few days."
Guard Rodrigue Beaubois (ankle) will play tonight. Beaubois has missed the past three preseason games after being injured in the preseason opener.
In the wake of injuries to Nowitzki and Kaman, Rick Carlisle isn't sure if the Mavs will attempt to sign another big man.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760