Nowitzki chooses to delay surgery as long as possible

DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki walked into the Dallas Mavericks' locker room after Monday's game against Houston and said he plans to forgo having surgery on his right knee as long as possible.

Nowitzki, 34, has experienced swelling and soreness in the knee for almost the entire training camp to the point it forced him to miss the last two preseason games. But he said he hopes to get through this entire season without having to go through any surgery.

"There was less swelling in there again," Nowitzki said. "The good news is it's not as much as it was last week in Barcelona.

"I guess that's a little positive, but I'm going to see if it does any better the next couple of days before I do another decision."

Nowitzki said if he has the surgery, there's a recovery period of 3-6 weeks. If that happens, obviously that will be detrimental to what the Mavericks are trying to accomplish this season.

"We've just got to play basketball," center Brandan Wright said. "I know he's got a lot of uncertainty with his knee and stuff like that.

"We don't really know what's going to happen with it. If it goes well or if it doesn't, we've just got to be prepared to play without him."

Nowitzki still isn't sure if surgery will be the end result of a problem with his right knee dating to early last season when he was forced to sit out four games with soreness and swelling in the same knee.

"I'm doing everything I can conceivably not to have surgery," Nowitzki said. "But I really don't want it done now.

"If I want to do it, I'd love to do it after the season and get through the season somehow. But the swelling came back three or four times now, so that's obviously not good news."

Nowitzki, an 11-time NBA All-Star, has only missed 45 of the 1,100 games he's been on the Dallas roster during his 14-year career. He is unquestionably a future Hall of Famer who the Mavericks would sorely miss if he's out for a long period.

"You never want your best player to go down or get injured," Wright said. "But if he does have to miss a large amount of time, we'll be able to step up and fill in as best we can for him.

"It's hard to replace a Hall of Famer, but we are professionals around here and we've got to do our jobs."

For his part, Nowitzki is hoping his knee will respond positively in the next few days.

"If it's going to keep swelling up, that's obviously not a way to go through an 82-game season and hopefully a long playoff run," he said. "So we're going to see how it responds this week, a reduced workload... and hopefully get this swelling out the next couple of days."

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760

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