Nowitzki underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Friday, an operation that was a routine procedure to clean up 14 NBA seasons of wear and tear. The typical timetable to return from such a surgery is three to six weeks.
Nowitzki, an 11-time All-Star who has never missed more than nine games in a season, will be cautious about rushing his return for the remodeled Mavs, who have eight newcomers on the roster.
"I need plenty of practices, so it's going to be a few weeks," said Nowitzki, who has already started light conditioning work on an exercise bike and walked without a limp Tuesday. "But is it going to be three, four, five, six? I have no idea."
Nowitzki, 34, said he returned too quickly when he sprained the same knee two years ago and the Mavs went 2-7 in his absence. The Mavs finished that season with the franchise's first championship, but Nowitzki struggled immediately after his return, and he said his struggles were related to conditioning issues coming off the injury.
As of now, Nowitzki is hesitant to discuss a timetable, although sources have told ESPNDallas.com that there is optimism that he'll be back closer to three weeks than six weeks. His immediate focus is on getting the swelling down so he can advance the rehabilitation and conditioning process.
"It stinks," Nowitzki said. "There's no other way to put it. But we're just going to have to do it, and before I come back, I'm going to do a bunch of practices. It's not like two years ago when I had one practice and came back. This year, we're going to make sure I'm ready to go."