Dirk Nowitzki’s 20th NBA season will come to a premature end by just a few games. The Mavs superstar and future Hall of Famer played in the 77 of the first 78 games of the season for Dallas before an ankle injury forced him out of Dallas’ most recent game against the Magic.
On Thursday, it was reported that Nowitzki underwent surgery on that left ankle in what was described by ESPN’s Tim MacMahon as a minor procedure that shouldn’t have much in the way of a long term impact on Dirk. It’s obviously a bit dramatic to say at this point it’s a “season-ending” injury, even if that’s the case, but with just a few games remaining for Dallas, we will have to wait until (hopefully) next fall to see him back on the floor.
The Mavs confirmed Nowitzki’s surgery shortly after.
Nowitzki has not made his plans for next season official just yet, and because of that bit of uncertainty there is the immediate leap to be concerned that we may never see the German wonder step foot on an NBA court again. However, as MacMahon notes, this shouldn’t have any bearing on his decision about next season and as Nowitzki has said, his plan all along has been to come back for 2018-19 at the least.
Marc Stein reports the decision to have surgery now is actually with eyes on returning for next season, to give him a jump on rehab so he can be 100 percent come the start of next season.
Barring any unforeseen complications with this surgery, Nowitzki’s play this season was more than good enough to warrant his return next season. While he’s no longer the dominant star player he once was, he remains an efficient and capable scorer as he plays in more limited minutes, averaging 12.0 points and 5.7 rebounds in 24.7 minutes per game, while shooting over 45 percent from the field and 40 percent from three.
Hopefully the surgery on Nowitzki’s ankle will clear up any issues he’s having and he can return next season so fans can offer him a proper sendoff for one of the all-time greats.