DALLAS – Apparently, Dallas Mavericks fans shouldn’t look for Dirk Nowitzki to be playing in any games any time soon.
Coach Rick Carlisle delivered the grim news after Saturday’s shootaround at American Airlines Center. Carlisle recently had a discussion with Casey Smith, the Mavs’ head athletic trainer, about Nowitzki, who has missed 13 of the team’s 18 games while dealing with a strained right Achilles.
"I talked to Casey about it yesterday and I think he’s going to be out for awhile,’’ Carlisle said, referring to Nowitzki. "I think ‘indefinitely’ is an accurate word until we tell you something.’’
Nowitzki played 38 minutes in the season opener at Indiana, missed the next two games, and then played 29 and 16 minutes against Utah and Portland, respectively. The 13-time All-Star then missed the ensuing eight games, followed by 20 minutes of playing time against the Los Angeles Clippers and 27 against Cleveland before sitting out the last three games.
The back-and-forth is not something the Mavs or Nowitzki are comfortable with. In essence, they would like to get to the bottom of his injury and get it resolved as quickly as possible.
"We’re not trying to hide anything here,’’ Carlisle said. "But taking daily questions about it gets exhausting for him, and if it’s not going to happen real soon, then what’s the point?
"He’ll talk here in the next couple of days about it and you can get more from him. Progress has been made -- he’s just not there yet.’’
Without their franchise player in the lineup, the Mavs have slipped to an uncharacteristic 3-15 on the season. They will take the NBA’s worst record into Saturday night’s 7:30 game against the Chicago Bulls.
Also missing from tonight’s game will be guards J. J. Barea (left calf strain) and Seth Curry (right knee sprain).
Carlisle is looking for any sympathy from anyone regarding the serious health issues the Mavs gave encountered. Yet, he knows any team would be hard-pressed trying to win games without their star player.
"It’s a hard league, it’s difficult to win games period,’’ Carlisle said. "I don’t put it all on the fact that Dirk is not playing or Barea is not playing.
"It’s a tough stretch, a lot of tough teams with or without those guys. Either way you still got to do the same things.’’
And that includes remaining focused on the task at hand.
Carlisle said: "You’ve got to execute and rebound and keep turnovers down, and you’ve got to work to get great shots. So that’s our plan tonight.’’