|Dirk could be back soon. (Getty Images)|
Nowitzki, 34, went through his first full-contact practice Wednesday, opening the possibility of a return to the floor very soon. He has been out since mid-October after having arthroscopic knee surgery.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Dirk didn't sound very encouraged with his situation and hinted that he might not be able to return until 2013.
"I don't think the middle of December is happening now, to be honest," he said on Dec. 5.
The Mavs are 12-13, all without Dirk. They're sitting outside of the West's top eight teams and obviously need help. The Mavs will take it slow with Nowitzki, bringing him along at a steady pace. When he does return, he'll likely have his minutes watched very closely.
But with the worry around Dirk's knees, just having him back at all is a very positive step forward for the Mavericks.