Dirk out; Clarity on Caron Butler coming

DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki will miss his fifth consecutive game tonight as the Dallas Mavericks begin a three-game homestand tonight against the Portland Trail Blazers. As for the long-term prognosis of injured forward Caron Butler, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said the team will provide clarity later today.

Tuesday morning, Butler tweeted from a hospital bed that he was "going in," and, judging by the photo, it certainly looked as though Butler was prepped for surgery. However, we'll avoid speculation on what "going in" means until the Mavs officially provide the information.

Over the weekend a source close to the situation said that Butler had at least a partially torn patellar tendon in his right knee, an injury that could keep Butler out a couple of months. The Mavs were holding out hope that he did not fully tear the tendon, which would likely end his season.

As for Nowitzki, now his earliest return would come in Thursday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. It's not known how much or if at all Nowitzki participated in the morning shootaround, but he did get enough of a workout in to work up a good sweat. He was one of the first to leave the court (media is permitted onto the court only for the final minutes of shootaround when all team drills have ceased) and when asked if he had an update on his status, he didn't divulge anything further than his comments over the weekend that he hoped to get back at some point this week.

"No update on Dirk," Carlisle said. "When Dirk's ready to play, we'll let everybody know when he's ready to play. In the meantime, he's making gradual process, but that's going to be it. We're not going to have a daily Dirk update, Dirk watch."

The Mavs, 1-3 without Nowitzki since he sprained his right knee on Dec. 27 at Oklahoma City, wrap up the homestand on Saturday against the Orlando Magic.