DALLAS – All that chatter over the last few days about Dirk Nowitzki making his 2018-‘19 debut on Saturday against the Houston Rockets was just that – chatter.
“He’s not going to play,” coach Rick Carlisle said after Friday’s practice at the Lympo practice facilities. “Don’t worry. Nobody is going to get scooped on this thing.
“When we announce that he’s going to play we’ll either announce it to everybody or we’ll announce it to nobody.”
Meanwhile, Carlisle said point guard Dennis Smith Jr. is doubtful to play against the Rockets. Smith missed Wednesday’s game in New Orleans after he aggravated his sprained right wrist late in Tuesday’s contest against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Nowitzki hasn’t played since undergoing surgery on his left ankle on Apr. 5. The 21-year veteran did go through practice on Friday, but Carlisle is adamant in saying that he’s not ready to play in a game just yet.
“He’s doing well,” Carlisle said. “You see him down there. He’s playing 3-on-3 and getting better all the time.”
Whenever Nowitzki is fully fit and prepared to play, the Mavs will be more than ready to fit him into the equation.
“He’s been in the equation the last 20 years, so I don’t really think it’s going to be too hard for him to jump back in,” forward Harrison Barnes said. “We’re all cheering for him and rooting for him to get back.
“It’s been a long road for his rehab. We’ve definitely seen it every day. He’s been putting in a lot of work. It’s been frustrating some of the setbacks, but it looks like he’s getting close.”