Mavs hope Dirk Nowitzki back soon

The Dallas Mavericks are optimistic that star power forward Dirk Nowitzki's return from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee will be closer to three weeks than six weeks, multiple sources said.

After Nowitzki underwent the operation Friday, the team conservatively announced that he would resume on-court activities within approximately six weeks.

The typical timetable to return from such an operation is three to six weeks. As Nowitzki noted last week, he's been a quick healer in the past, coming back from several ankle sprains sooner than normal.

Sources said the Mavs' medical staff was encouraged by the routine nature of Nowitzki's knee scope. The hope is that the 34-year-old will respond well to rehab and could possibly miss only two weeks of the regular season.

Nowitzki, an 11-time All-Star, hoped to put off the surgery until after the season, but it was determined that he needed to have the cause of the inflammation dealt with now.

The Mavericks' medical staff drained the knee twice this month, and the swelling returned within days both times. Nowitzki's knee did not respond as hoped to a program of rest, icing and low-impact conditioning work this week, leading to the decision to get the knee scoped.

The knee started bothering Nowitzki, a 14-year veteran, during last season's training camp. He struggled mightily at the beginning of the lockout-compressed season, leading to his taking four games off to focus on conditioning. The knee wasn't an issue for the rest of the season, but Nowitzki had his worst statistical year since his second season in the NBA, averaging 21.6 points and 6.8 rebounds for a defending championship team that was swept in the first round.

The Mavs open the season on the road Oct. 30 against the Los Angeles Lakers, and six of their next eight opponents were lottery teams last season.