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Rick Carlisle says Dirk Nowitzki is 'weeks, not days' from seeing game action

Dirk Nowitzki seems open to a reserve role for the Dallas Mavericks in the 2018-19 season. When, exactly, he gets to test out that role — or any other action on the court — remains a way off, according to Mavs coach Rick Carlisle.

The Mavs taking part in the 2018 NBA China Games this week, playing games against the Philadelphia 76ers on Oct. 5 (in Shanghai) and Oct. 8 (in Shenzen). Nowitzki had his left ankle surgically repaired in the offseason and took part in some scrimmages with teammates in early September. However, Nowitzki has been dealing with foot and ankle inflammation and has not done any court work since training camp started on Sept. 21, writes Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News.

Hopes that fans had of Nowitzki suiting up for the NBA China Games were essentially dashed by Carlisle, writes Sefko:

Nowitzki also said that it’s not his surgically repaired left ankle that is causing problems, but tendons in his foot that are sore.

“Those tendons didn’t even get used for five or six years because of the bone spurs,” Nowitzki said. “Now they’re moving around and that’s causing the soreness. The actual surgery area is fine.”

“He won’t do anything on this trip,” Carlisle said. “I can’t give you any kind of a soft timeline. It’s weeks, not days, as far as getting on the court for live action.

“He is making gradual progress. We’re just not at a point where we can talk about a hard timeline.”

Nowitzki sat out of Wednesday morning’s practice at Mercedes Benz Arena in Shanghai. He did not go through any stretching or drills with the team.

Asked if there was a chance he could be ready for the season opener on Oct. 17, he just gave a harrumph and let that speak for itself.

The 40-year-old Nowitzki averaged 12.0 points (on 40.9 percent shooting from 3-point), 5.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists during 77 games this season — his 20th in the NBA. The 12-time All-Star sits 232 points behind Wilt Chamberlain for No. 5 on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Nowitzki is set to become the first player in NBA history to play 21 consecutive seasons for the same franchise. The 7-foot German is one of six players overall, and the only international player, with more than 30,000 career points.