|Dirk's knee is his biggest opponent right now. (Getty Images)|
Remember a few days ago when Dirk Nowitzki sat out the Dallas Mavericks' preseason game against FC Barcelona Regal?
Well, Nowitzki also sat out Monday's game between the Mavericks and the Houston Rockets because of more swelling in his right knee -- and is now saying he might need surgery to clean out the knee if he can't avoid it with rest and ice.
Via Tim MacMahon at ESPNDallas.com:
Nowitzki said he will reduce his workload over the next week -- icing the knee a lot and doing low-impact conditioning work -- and then make a decision on whether to undergo an operation that typically has a recovery time of three to six weeks.
"I'm doing everything I can not to have surgery," Nowitzki said Monday after sitting out a second consecutive preseason game due to the knee. "I guess that's obvious that I really don't want it done now. If I want to do it, I would love to do it after the season, get through the season somehow, but the swelling came back three or four times now. That's obviously not good news.
"If it's going to keep swelling up on me, that's obviously not a way to go throughout an 82-game season and hopefully long playoff run."
This is concerning on many levels. First, most people like Nowitzki and want to watch him play healthy basketball. They want to see him shoot flamingo-style jumpers over helpless defenders and then bare his teeth has he runs up the floor.
Second, some people assumed Nowitzki missed games last season with a similar injury because the lockout-shortened season didn't give him proper time to get his body into shape and maintain that shape throughout the truncated schedule. But what if this is happening to him now just because he has a bad knee?
Ideally, he would have taken this normal offseason and prepared his body for the rigors of the 82-game schedule, which he probably did. However, he's facing the possibility of surgery right before the season starts. There's no telling what will happen if he's forced to get it before the season ends.
What happens to the Mavericks if he misses the first month because he has to have surgery in a week or two? He doesn't have a group of bad players around him, but he has a group of complementary players who need a superstar to complement.
We've seen a few aging superstars -- most recently Kevin Garnett -- who battled knee injuries late into their careers and found a way to bounce back. Perhaps this knee swelling for Nowitzki, 34, won't be a long-term issue and he'll be back to throwing daggers into opponents like in the championship days of old.
You just hate to see a guy thinking about knee surgery, even if it would be routine cleanup, right before the season is about to get under way.