HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The good news first.
That O.J. Mayo acquisition is looking pretty good so far for the Dallas Mavericks. The dynamic Mayo (above) is showing off the talent and skills that made him a difference-maker the past three seasons in Memphis. If you don’t believe it, just take a good look at the work he put in against the Rockets last night.
Now that we’ve gotten the good stuff out of the way, we need to turn our attention to a few issues the Mavericks are dealing with, the first of which involving the face of the franchise, Dirk Nowitzki.
He’s got a sore knee that could very well require surgery, which would cause the Mavericks’ 11-time All-Star to miss the start of the regular season. He’s already had the knee drained twice in the past month. Without any improvement, surgery is an option (per The Associated Press):
“I guess that it’s obvious that I don’t want (surgery) done,” Nowitzki said. “If it’s going to keep swelling up on me, that’s not a way to go through an 82-game season and hopefully a long playoff run.”
Nowitzki said the swelling wasn’t as bad as it had been when he had problems before a preseason game In Spain last Tuesday. He practiced once the team returned to Texas and experienced more swelling afterwards.
It is the same knee and same issue Nowitzki dealt with early last season. The Mavericks held their perennial All-Star out for a four-game stretch in January to improve his game conditioning and give him time to strengthen his right knee.
Nowitzki said he is going to avoid practices and scrimmages, limiting his workouts to time in the pool and on the elliptical machine.
“It makes no sense to play in the preseason on a swollen knee,” Nowitzki said. “So we’ll see what’s going to happen in the next couple of days.”
Adding to the nervousness in Dallas is the status of Delonte West, another member of the Mavericks’ returning core group, who was suspended by the team (more from Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com):
Dallas Mavericks guard Delonte West has been suspended for conduct detrimental to the team, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. Carlisle did not specify a timetable for West’s suspension.
Sources told ESPNDallas.com that West’s suspension stems at least in part from an outburst in the locker room after the Mavs’ 123-104 preseason win Monday over the Houston Rockets. He had 2 points, 2 assists and 1 rebound in 16 minutes during the win.
West tweeted later Monday: “Sorry moma…” and “I showed off on ur birthday again…”
West, an eight-year veteran entering his second season with the Mavs, has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
West’s bipolar disorder was a factor in a September 2009 incident that resulted in his arrest on weapons charges after he was pulled over while driving a three-wheel motorcycle in Upper Marlboro, Md.
West was sentenced to eight months of house arrest for that incident and suspended for 10 games by the NBA.
For a team trying to incorporate several new faces into the fabric of one of the most consistently successful franchises in all of professional sports, an ailing Nowitzki and a freshly suspended West will cause plenty of heartburn.
West has shown a resilience that has served him well in the past. And there is no reason to believe that his latest dust-up is merely a blip and not a sign of more trouble to come (the memory of the Lamar Odom fiasco is still relatively fresh for some Mavs boosters).
We praised the Mavericks for their handling of the Odom affair last year and also for rebounding this summer when their free-agent targets ended up elsewhere. There’s no reason to believe that Mark Cuban and his crew can’t handle this latest round of adversity in their typical, first-class fashion.
But that doesn’t mean these issues can or should be ignored.
If this team has to play a significant portion of its season without Nowitzki, though, well … surely, no one in Dallas wants to go down that road.