Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki has been ruled out of the team’s regular-season opener and will miss the next several games as he rehabs an ankle injury.
Nowitzki, 40, underwent ankle surgery in April to remove bone spurs and has been shelved throughout the Mavericks’ preseason play.
Coach Rick Carlisle made the decision to have Nowitzki sit out of Dallas’ opener Wednesday against the Suns in Phoenix.
“It’s going to be multiple weeks, I can tell you that,” Carlisle said Friday, via ESPN. “But there’s no real soft or hard date [for Nowitzki’s return] at this point. He is doing better but has not done any significant court work. His rehab work is ongoing, and we can update you in another 10 days or something like that.”
The 20-season veteran did not practice in training camp, either. Nowitzki suffered a setback while playing in a pickup game a week before camp began, leaving him with soreness in the tendon in his left foot and ankle.
Nowitzki, injury-free for most of his career, missed long stretches in two of the past five seasons. He sat out the first 27 games of 2012-13 after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in the preseason and then was out for 24 games at the start of the 2016-17 season with Achilles soreness.
The 13-time NBA All-Star averaged 12.0 points and 5.7 rebounds in 77 games last season. He also averaged 24.7 minutes per game, which is the fewest since his rookie season in 1998-99.
Injuries continue to plague the Mavs’ post players, as forward Harrison Barnes is questionable for Wednesday’s game against the Suns due to a hamstring strain that also has sidelined him for the entire preseason.
“He’s doing better each day,” Carlisle said. “His availability for the first game is going to hinge on whether he can get any quality practice time in between now and then.”