With this season clearly gone sour, the Dallas Mavericks may be on the verge of getting someone back who can help make things a little sweeter.
Forward Dirk Nowitzki, who has played in only five of the Mavs’ first 22 games because of a strained right Achilles, could be ready for practice next week, according to owner Mark Cuban.
“Hopefully he’ll start practicing next week, so we’ll see,” Cuban said prior to Friday’s game against the Indiana Pacers. “I’ve been saying a lot of hopefullys the whole season, so I’m not making any predictions.”
Nowitzki hasn’t played since giving 20 minutes in a 124-104 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 23. Nowitzki is averaging 12.2 points and 6.4 rebounds.
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“Dirk, he’s working his (rear end) off,” Cuban said. “The guy hates it because he’s working so hard and he isn’t able to play. His health has to improve – there’s no other way to say it.”
Dirk Nowitzki received the Derek Harper Assist Award at halftime of Friday’s game against Indiana.
The award, given by the Professional Basketball Writers Association, is presented to the player who exhibited outstanding professionalism in dealing with the local community of media members during the 2015-16 season. A player from each of the 30 NBA teams, will receive this award at some point during this season.
“Dirk’s a comedian, he’s always got something to say, he’s witty, he’s fun, he’s opinionated, he doesn’t hold back,” owner Mark Cuban said. “That gets people elected President and it gets him to be the media guy of the year.
“Dirk respects the game, respects the community, respects the fans and isn’t shy. He’s come a long way.”
Whenever he plays, Nowitzki does interviews after every game, and after every shoot-around during road games.
Mavs’ go-to guy
A little over a month into the season and the Mavs believe Harrison Barnes has positioned himself to be a player who can take over a game.
“He’s really looking to take the responsibility of being a go-to guy and still play team basketball,” owner Mark Cuban said. “He doesn’t play just to get numbers.
“He tries to play within the scheme of the team and make the guys around him better.”
Barnes, who signed a four-year, $94 million free agent contract with the Mavs in July, averages a team-high 20.4 points per game.
“There’s been times when he’s been the only drafted player on the floor,” Cuban said. “But he’s accepted every challenge we’ve given him.
“And when I talked to him, it’s always about ways he can get better, ways the team can get better and him reiterating to me that he wants to be a cornerstone here for a long time to come. So in every which way he’s been great.”