Sep 21, 2013, 12:30 PM EST
15 seasons. Over 45,000 minutes of regular season and playoff minutes. International play. Training camps. Practices.
That’s a lot of miles on the old odometer, but that’s not stopping Dirk Nowitzki from getting acclimated to his new teammates.
After all, there’s only so much time Nowitzki has left in his career, and after the Mavericks balked at the chance to rebuild, both Nowitzki and the Mavs are all-in on the present. That means guys are ramping up a little earlier than usual.
“He is playing 5-on-5 with the guys,” owner Mark Cuban said. “(That’s) something he hasn’t done in years. Actually, all you need to know is that he’s talking about possibly playing more internationally. I don’t think he’s doing it just to make me mad.
“You never know in this business. But he looks good.”
It’s good to hear Nowitzki is feeling up to the challenge of carrying the Mavericks, because he’ll have to do just that if Dallas wants any chance at the playoffs this season.
Nowitzki missed the first 26 games of the season last year after knee issues flared up in training camp and preseason, but both he and the team appear confident that no health problems will arise this season. The extra time on the court with the newly signed backcourt of Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon is important, but working with Samuel Dalembert on their back-line defensive chemistry might be even more critical.
We know Nowitzki will score in a ridiculous fashion, but what we don’t know is how the Mavericks can hold up defensively this season. Calderon and Ellis are swinging doors on the perimeter, and Nowitzki, while crafty with his strips in the post, isn’t as mobile as he once was.
Can a team with so many aging veterans cobble together a defense that’s at least league average? Right next to Nowitzki’s health, that’s the biggest concern this season. But at least on Nowitzki’s front, it’s so far, so good in Big D.
- Where I call out Dan Patrick, Charles Barkley for sounding like old men asking, “When did basketball get so bad?” 1
- Adam Silver: NBA to consider doing away with divisions 9
- The Extra Pass: Five quick ways to improve the league; plus Monday’s Recaps 10
- Monday night NBA Grades: DeMarcus Cousins was in beast mode 3
- PBT Extra: Kobe Bryant is back, doesn’t have much time to get it right 5
- LeBron says Wade is “getting that Kobe deal” in next contract. Should he? (65)
- Dwight Howard frustrated with Rockets’ effort in recent losses (52)
- Kobe Bryant dunks, looks good in Lakers practice; Friday return possible (47)
- The Extra Pass: Our awards at the quarter pole, plus Monday recaps (43)
- Durant tells “60 Minutes Sports” he’s still tired of being No. 2 (35)