Nowitzki said he will reduce his workload over the next week -- icing the knee a lot and doing low-impact conditioning work -- and then make a decision on whether to undergo an operation that typically has a recovery time of three to six weeks.
"I'm doing everything I can not to have surgery," Nowitzki said Monday after sitting out a second consecutive preseason game due to the knee. "I guess that's obvious that I really don't want it done now. If I want to do it, I would love to do it after the season, get through the season somehow, but the swelling came back three or four times now. That's obviously not good news.
"If it's going to keep swelling up on me, that's obviously not a way to go throughout an 82-game season and hopefully long playoff run."
The knee began bothering Nowitzki during the Mavs' trip to Europe, prompting him to sit out Dallas' loss last week to FC Barcelona Regal. He practiced Friday, Saturday and Sunday and participated in Monday's shootaround, but the decision was made to rest him for the win over the Houston Rockets after the swelling returned.
Nowitzki, a 15-year veteran and 11-time All-Star, said the swelling now is not as bad as it was last week.
"We're going to see if it gets any better these next couple of days before we do another decision," Nowitzki said. "That's really the only update we've got. There's a little swelling in there. It makes no sense at this point of the preseason to play on a swollen knee, so we decided to see what's going to happen here in the next couple of days."
Nowitzki, 34, also had problems with swelling and soreness in his right knee early last season, when he got off to a dreadful start in what was his worst statistical campaign since the 11-time All-Star's second year in the NBA. He missed four games to work on his conditioning in January and did not have any more issues with the knee the rest of the season.