With the much anticipated training camp set to start Tuesday, the Dallas Mavericks will enter preparations for the 2019-‘20 season without Dirk Nowitzki on their roster for the first time since 1997.
That in itself adds a new wrinkle to what the Mavs hope will be their first playoff berth since 2016.
“It’s definitely going to have a different feel to it,” coach Rick Carlisle told Mavs.com on Wednesday. “That said, my understanding is the (American Airlines Center) court has a picture of (Nowitzki) on it, which is a great tribute.”
Nowitzki played all 21 years of his NBA career with the Mavs. The 41-year-old holds most of the team’s individual franchise records and retired after last season following a career that earned him 14 berths in the NBA All-Star game and the league’s Most Valuable Player award in 2007.
“That’s going to be weird not having him,” guard JJ Barea said. “For me especially it’s going to be super weird.
“He’s still going to be around, but it’s going to be weird without him.”
Carlisle spent the last 11 seasons coaching Nowitzki, and the native of Germany led the Mavs to their only NBA title in 2011. But Carlisle believes Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are ready to take the baton from Nowitzki and run with it.
“I think that it’s really important to always remember (Nowitzki’s) massive contributions to this franchise, to a championship, and to the kind of integrity that he brought to the club, both as a player and as someone in the community,” Carlisle said. “It’s a big change without him.
“But Luka and KP have got to take the reins from Dirk and Jason Kidd and Jason Terry and that group of franchise players. I know they’re excited to take on that challenge.”