Dirk Nowitzki's return: 'It's hard to say right now'

DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki doesn't want anyone getting any bright ideas that he'll be back in a Dallas Mavericks uniform in less than six weeks.

"A timetable at this point is probably ridiculous to talk about," Nowitzki said Tuesday afternoon at American Airlines Center. "Any time you have surgery on the knee, there's going to be swelling afterward, and it's just hard to say right now.

"I think when you come off your first knee surgery, you want to make sure all the swelling is gone, you want to make sure all the strength is fully back 100 percent, then you start going on the court. Then you can start shooting again and running and put another week or two on the court in before you even start thinking about playing again."

Nowitzki underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Friday after swelling and soreness in the knee for nearly three weeks. He had the knee drained twice since training camp started Sept. 29.

But the swelling kept reappearing, leaving the Mavs' all-time leading scorer no choice but to undergo a surgery that might not get him back in a regular-season game until the first week of December.

If he doesn't return until a Dec. 1 home game against Detroit, he will have missed 16 games.

Nowitzki experienced swelling with the same knee in the 2010-11 season, and that caused him to sit out nine games. The Maverick went 2-7 and Nowitzki remembers foolishly rushing back to come to his teammates' aid.

"I probably came back way too early," he said. "I didn't look good. I didn't have my wind up; I was struggling there.

"So I don't think this year that's something that we're going to do."

Coach Rick Carlisle got testy with a couple of reporters who kept asking about how his team will survive and what adjustments will be made without the 11-time All-Star.

"Whatever the timetable is, whatever he said, is what's happening, and we're just going to go from there," Carlisle said. "No disrespect, but I'm not a doctor and you're asking me questions about stuff that ...

"We haven't had him for two weeks, so we're kind of getting used to it."

Kaman out again

Center Chris Kaman will miss his third consecutive game tonight because of a strained right calf when the Mavs play the Oklahoma City Thunder in Wichita, Kan.

The Thunder swept the Mavs 4-0 in the first round of last season's playoffs and went on to lose to Miami in the NBA Finals. OKC is a fierce rebounding squad, something that has been very challenging for the Mavs, who lost the board battle to New Orleans on Monday, 62-40.

"I expect them to be young and fast and above the rim a lot," Rick Carlisle said of the Thunder. "It'll be a good challenge for our rebounding situation."

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760

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