Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitski, left, seen here shooting over Sacramento Kings forward Hedo Turkoglu, is having left knee swelling that may force the Mavs star to undergo arthroscopic surgery. (Photo : Reuters)
With their NBA regular season only two weeks-and counting-from the Oct. 30 tipoff, the number one question on the minds of Dallas Mavericks fans these days is this: how badly is Dirk Nowitzki hurt?
As of late, there have been more questions than answers as the star power forward for the Mavericks sits on the sidelines with a swollen right knee that may threaten to cut his playing time this regular season-if not threaten his season altogether.
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According to USA Today, Nowitzki sat out of Monday's 123-104 Mavericks win against the Houston Rockets, where he told reporters after the game that the swelling in his knee has returned, bringing the possibility of arthroscopic surgery grimly closer to reality.
The Dallas Morning News reports the 11-time All-Star said that he was hoping to avoid surgery , but the re-swelling of his knee has him feeling less hopeful about that.
"I'm doing everything I can, conservatively, not to have surgery," he said. "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, then that's obviously not the way to go through an 82-game season and hopefully a long playoff run."
Thus far, Nowitzki has had his right knee drained twice this year, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
As ESPNDallas recaps, Nowitzki-who led the Mavs to the NBA Championship in 2011-had problems with similar issues with his right knee early last season, which contributed to his worst statistical year since the 14-year veteran's second year in the league. He missed four games to work on his conditioning in January and did not have any more issues with the knee the rest of the season.
With much of the Mavericks championship team of 2011 gone via trade or free agency-including noteables Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd-things are looking grim for the team's chances without their leader and top scorer as they prepare to open the season Oct. 30 against a star-studded Los Angeles Lakers squad.
Still, Mavericks center Brandan Wright told the Star-Telegram, the team would have to persevere.
"We've just got to play basketball," Wright said. "I know he's got a lot of uncertainty with his knee and stuff like that.
"We don't really know what's going to happen with it. If it goes well or if it doesn't, we've just got to be prepared to play without him."
Stoudemire, bruised knee, plans to play Friday for Knicks
Meanwhile, in New York, it appears fears over New York Knicks star forward Amar'e Stoudemire's banged-up left knee can be dismissed, for now.
According to Newsday, Stoudemire-who missed the first two preseason games for the 2-0 Knicks-told the paper that he would "absolutely" play the team's next game Friday in Toronto against the Raptors (2-1).
With only four more games left in their regular season before opening the 2012-13 season Nov. 1 against the crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets, Stoudemire is focused on building chemistry with his teammates and staying healthy.
"There's not really much to accomplish in the preseason except for creating that chemistry and getting into more of a good flow and just try and become sharper and sharper on both ends of the court," Stoudemire said after practice Monday. "We want to get through this preseason without injury and get ready to start the season off in good shape."
Chemistry and health will be two critical keys to the Knicks' chances this season.
New York struggled late in the last lockout-shortened season, with a condensed 66-game schedule contributing to the Knicks' lack of team cohesion and injuries to several key players such as Stoudemire, star small forward Carmelo Anthony, departed point guard Jeremy Lin and then-rookie sensation guard Iman Shumpert-still on injured reserve with a torn ACL sustained during the Knicks' opening round loss in five games to the eventual champion Miami Heat.
With critics of pairing superstars Anthony and Stoudemire on the same team still claiming that the duo can't play together, both players told ESPN New York earlier this month that they are more determined than ever to make it work and ignore such speculation.
"That's something we would not allow to come into the locker room, come between us as players. We will be one tight group this season," Anthony told ESPN.
On that topic, Stoudemire said, "I think this year will be a great test for us to see if we can get it going. We had a full training camp. We've got a coaching staff and all the players (in place) ... so it should be a good year for us."
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