Nowitzki still leads Mavs with blood, sweat

Marc J. Spears
Yahoo Sports
Nowitzki still leads Mavs with blood, sweat
.

View gallery

Carl Landry's teeth opened a deep gash to Dirk Nowitzki's elbow during this collision

DALLAS – Dirk Nowitzki(notes) watched the doctor remove bits of teeth from his right elbow, a surreal experience in itself. The doctor stitched up the cut, sent Nowitzki for X-rays then decided he needed to re-examine the wound. So he took out the stitches and probed the gash until Nowitzki screamed. More stitches followed. There was even talk of possible surgery.

The Dallas Mavericks' injury report stated simply that Nowitzki had a right elbow laceration following his collision with Houston Rockets forward Carl Landry(notes) on Friday. This, however, was no ordinary cut. Landry lost parts of five teeth, some of which were imbedded in Nowitzki's elbow. Landry ended up getting a root canal; Nowitzki sat out Sunday's victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers and he also might miss Tuesday's game against the Portland Trail Blazers because his elbow is still too stiff and painful.

The doctor "was really scared about an infection, so he went back in there for like 30, 40 minutes," Nowitzki said. "I was just watching him with his fingers in my hole in my elbow. He had his whole finger digging in there. That was ugly.

"I took as many pain killers as I've had in a long, long time. … We did consider [surgery] for a second because we didn't really know how many parts were in there floating around."

Nowitzki said he's at the greatest risk of infection for the first 72 hours after the cut, but is hopeful he'll be fine.

"With that situation with your franchise player, you always take a deep breath, swallow hard and pray for the best," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "That's all you can do when you're dealing with Mother Nature. So far, the signs are good. This thing isn't over yet."

The Mavericks are fortunate to have three days off following Tuesday's game against Portland, and they obviously don't want to endure a long stretch without their All-Star forward. Backed by a deep, veteran roster that also includes Jason Kidd(notes), Shawn Marion(notes), Josh Howard(notes), Erick Dampier(notes), Drew Gooden(notes) and Tim Thomas(notes), Dallas owns the Western Conference's second-best record at 20-8. But although the Mavericks did win surprisingly easy without Nowitzki against LeBron James(notes) and the Cavs, it's no secret the franchise's long-term success still lives and dies with its greatest player.

Nowitzki is averaging 26.1 points per game, 8.1 rebounds and owns the fifth-best efficiency rating in the league. The Mavericks have also raved about him playing the best defense of his 12-year career.

James, Kobe Bryant(notes), Carmelo Anthony(notes) and Dwight Howard(notes) are the usual names to surface in any MVP debate this season, but Nowitzki has quietly (as usual) emerged as a legitimate candidate.

"He's 31. People take him for granted," Kidd said. "He can play big, small, however you want it. When you see those numbers, you just assume that he's going to give you that on a nightly basis. His team wins, too. It's unfortunate that he doesn't get a little more exposure."

Said Carlisle: "He leads the NBA in plus-minus productivity, so he has the greatest impact of any player in the entire league in terms of when he is on the court."

James ranked the Mavericks among the league's best teams after losing to them. And Nowitzki believes this is the best supporting cast he's had, even better than the team he took to the 2006 NBA Finals. That, however, hasn't won over some skeptics who believe the Mavericks still need one more quality player to help them seriously challenge the Los Angeles Lakers and contend for a championship.

The Mavericks routed the Lakers 94-80 on Oct. 30, but Pau Gasol(notes) didn't play. And as even Nowitzki admitted, Gasol's addition is what made the Lakers a title team.

"Since I've been here, and this is my 12th season now, this is the most talent that we have on a team from top to bottom, Finals included," Nowitzki said. "The only problem is the rest of the top teams got better, too. We're still all mad at Memphis for just trading Gasol to L.A. We're still mad at [Detroit Pistons president] Joe Dumars for trading [Chauncey] Billups to Denver. It just so happens that the rest of the league and the rest of the Western Conference got better as well.

"I think from top to bottom we're better than any team I've been on here. That's a good thing. We need some luck down the stretch; we have to be injury-free, but I definitely like what everybody brings."

Even if Dallas again comes up short in its quest for a championship, Nowitzki likes the makeup of the franchise enough that he believes he'll be a Maverick for the rest of his career. He could opt out of his contract at the end of the season, but said he hasn't decided whether it's in his best interest to even join the heralded 2010 free-agent class. Much like what Bryant did with the Lakers, Nowitzki could pass on free agency with the intention of signing an extension with the Mavericks.

"I figured I'd play this [season] out and see what my options are," he said. "I really haven't focused on it much. I'm really focusing on this season and we'll see what happens at the end, and I guess it will be more of a quick decision.

"I didn't plan on opting out as of now. But nothing has been done so far. I didn't sign anything. We didn't agree on anything. I've always said that I wanted to finish my career here because I've put so much into it for the last 12 years now that if I just go somewhere and win it somewhere else it won't be the same. That's kind of my attitude. I want to make it work here. Whatever we got to do, I guess, we'll have to do this summer."

Said Mavericks owner Mark Cuban: "He knows pretty much what the plan is, but I'll say, 'Here's our options. How can I help?' "

There is at least one player who could significantly help the Mavericks' quest for a championship: Toronto Raptors forward (and Dallas native) Chris Bosh(notes).

There has been speculation Bosh could be moved before the trade deadline if the Raptors feel they have no way of re-signing the coveted free agent next summer. An NBA source with knowledge of Toronto's plans told Yahoo! Sports that Raptors officials are still hopeful the team will improve enough to convince Bosh to re-sign. That didn't stop Nowitzki from chatting up Bosh when both visited South Africa with the NBA's Basketball Without Borders program.

"I was like, 'So, you coming back to Dallas?' " Nowitzki said. "He just said he doesn't know and everything was so wide open to him.

"I think everything right now is speculation. I don't like speculation. I like to focus on what I got."

That's a wise approach considering one substantial obstacle will make it difficult for the Mavericks to lure Bosh if he hits the free-agent market: money. The Mavericks, who are expected to be over the salary cap, would likely either need to persuade Nowitzki to take less money himself or convince the Raptors to do a sign-and-trade deal.

Still, there are no limits, however, on Cuban's creativity.

"We can be a player," Cuban said in regards to the general free-agent market. "Everybody thinks its all about cap room. But I don't think all the guys that are free agents – they've been in this league long enough – don't want to be on teams involved in a rebuilding process. There's a lot to risk. You want to go to a team where you can compete.

"So it may not be about cap room. It might be about a sign-and-trade. It might be about any other options of different things. We've got a lot of different options."

Their No. 1 option remains the same as it's always been: Keep their current franchise player happy – and healthy.

  • Buffalo Bills cheerleaders halt season after suit

    Pack up the pom-poms in Buffalo, because the Bills will be playing without the support of their official cheerleaders this year. Stephanie Mateczun, whose company manages the Buffalo Jills cheerleading squad, said Thursday she has suspended … More »

    AP - Sports - 5 minutes ago
  • Former MSU lineman Siddoway arrested

    Former Mississippi State offensive lineman Charles Siddoway and current defensive lineman Jordan Washington were arrested on Wednesday and charged with burglary and robbery. The 6-foot-7, 300-pound Siddoway started all 26 games of his Mississippi … More »

    AP - Sports - 6 minutes ago
  • Will Ducks find ’another level’ in Game 5?

    Will Ducks find ’another level’ in Game 5?

    Yahoo Sports’ Greg Wyshynski breaks down Anaheim’s chances heading home for Game 5 … More »

    Yahoo Sports Videos - 8 minutes ago
  • Is postseason pressure too much for Marc-Andre Fleury?

    Is postseason pressure too much for Marc-Andre Fleury?

    Yahoo Sports’ Greg Wyshynski explains why there’s cause for concern for the Pittsburgh netminder heading into Game 5 … More »

    Yahoo Sports Videos - 8 minutes ago
  • Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda suspended 10 games for using pine tar, won't appeal

    Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda suspended 10 games for using pine tar, won't appeal

    BOSTON - New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was suspended for 10 games Thursday after being caught using pine tar. "I accept it," Pineda said before Thursday night's game at Fenway Park. Pineda was ejected in the second inning of Wednesday … More »

    The Canadian Press - 9 minutes ago
  • All eyes on Northwestern football players as historic vote on college union arrives

    All eyes on Northwestern football players as historic vote on college union arrives

    EVANSTON, Ill. - Northwestern University's football players will cast ballots Friday on whether to form the nation's first union for college athletes — a potentially landmark vote that will be kept sealed for months and possibly years. The National … More »

    The Canadian Press - 9 minutes ago
  • Can Blues still beat the defending champs?

    Can Blues still beat the defending champs?

    Yahoo Sports’ Greg Wyshynski explains why one piece is crucial for St. Louis to succeed against Chicago … More »

    Yahoo Sports Videos - 9 minutes ago
  • Is Steve Mason better for Flyers in Game 5?

    Is Steve Mason better for Flyers in Game 5?

    Yahoo Sports’ Greg Wyshynski explains what changing goalies will mean for Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals … More »

    Yahoo Sports Videos - 10 minutes ago
  • Benfica beats Juventus 2-1 in Europa League semis

    Benfica beats Juventus 2-1 in Europa League semis

    LISBON, Portugal (AP) -- Substitute Lima scored in the 84th minute to give Benfica a 2-1 victory over Italy's Juventus in the first-leg of their Europa League semifinal Thursday night. … More »

    AP - Sports - 11 minutes ago
  • Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar stolen in sticker heist

    Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar stolen in sticker heist

    Avid World Cup sticker collectors in Rio de Janeiro were given a shock this week when a van carrying hundreds of thousands of Panini stickers was stolen during a delivery. Thieves made off with some 300,000 of the adhesive stickers featuring … More »

    Reuters - 16 minutes ago
  • Blazers return home with a 2-0 advantage

    Blazers return home with a 2-0 advantage

    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Houston has a LaMarcus Aldridge problem. … More »

    AP - Sports - 18 minutes ago
  • Phelps wins first race in comeback

    By Julian Linden PHOENIX (Reuters) - Michael Phelps made an ominous start in his comeback to competitive swimming on Thursday, setting the fastest time in the 100 metres butterfly heats at a USA Swimming Grand Prix meet in suburban Phoenix. Racing … More »

    Reuters - 19 minutes ago
  • NBA playoffs - What to watch for Friday

    NBA playoffs - What to watch for Friday

    Yahoo Sports' Evan Doherty looks ahead to the trio of Game 3s featuring Raptors-Nets, Bulls-Wizards and Rockets-Blazers. … More »

    Yahoo Sports Videos - 22 minutes ago
  • Pineda not only pitcher in majors to try pine tar

    Pineda not only pitcher in majors to try pine tar

    New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda is hardly the first major leaguer to head to the mound hoping to get away with using pine tar to aid his grip. ''It's not like somebody sits you down and says, 'Hey, dude, you should try this.' You see … More »

    AP - Sports - 3 minutes 50 seconds ago
  • Paul McCartney to play at Candlestick concert

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Pop legend Paul McCartney is set to return to Candlestick Park to offer a swan song to the San Francisco 49ers' former stadium. … More »

    AP - Sports - 27 minutes ago
  • Red Wings pencil Zetterberg into lineup for Game 4

    Red Wings pencil Zetterberg into lineup for Game 4

    DETROIT (AP) -- Henrik Zetterberg may play for the Detroit Red Wings in a critical Game 4 against the Boston Bruins. … More »

    AP - Sports - 28 minutes ago
  • Kluber, Indians roll past Royals 5-1

    Kluber, Indians roll past Royals 5-1

    Corey Kluber stayed stone-faced, maintaining the same stoic look in the clubhouse that he had for nine innings on the mound. Only when prodded by an Indians teammate did Kluber crack. ''Did you smile after the game?'' pitcher Justin Masterson … More »

    AP - Sports - 29 minutes ago
  • Kosar believes he's off TV for slurred speech

    Kosar believes he's off TV for slurred speech

    Former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar believes he has been unfairly sacked as a TV broadcaster. Kosar has been removed as a color commentator for Cleveland's preseason games by the team. The Browns said Wednesday night he was being replaced by … More »

    AP - Sports - 30 minutes ago
  • Trip Tips: Brazil's beachless metropolis is a foodie's paradise

    By Todd Benson SAO PAULO (Reuters) - If your idea of Brazil is beaches and bikinis, São Paulo is not the place to go. But if you're a seasoned traveler who tends to shun traditional tourism hot spots for urban adventures off the beaten trail, then … More »

    Reuters - 32 minutes ago
  • Cabrera, Scherzer lift Tigers by ChiSox

    Cabrera, Scherzer lift Tigers by ChiSox

    There's little doubt that Miguel Cabrera is one of the best hitters in baseball. Cabrera found infield gaps with a pair of two-out hits to drive in three runs in Detroit's 7-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox. ''I'm just trying to hit the ball … More »

    AP - Sports - 33 minutes ago
  • Armstrong loses arbitration appeal to block case

    A Texas appeals court has rejected Lance Armstrong's attempts to block an arbitration panel from reviewing $12 million in bonuses paid to him by a company that wants its money back, a setback for the cyclist who is fighting multiple legal battles … More »

    AP - Sports - 34 minutes ago
  • NLRB to review Northwestern union ruling

    NLRB to review Northwestern union ruling

    Northwestern University's football players will cast ballots Friday on whether to form the nation's first union for college athletes - a potentially landmark vote that will be kept sealed for months and possibly years. The National Labor Relations … More »

    AP - Sports - 41 minutes ago
  • Column: 'There's better ways to conceal it.'

    Column: 'There's better ways to conceal it.'

    The thing that has baseball folks riled up about Michael Pineda isn't that he was trying to cheat. It had to qualify as the grossest violation ever of Rule 8.02(b), which says, ''The pitcher shall not ... have on his person, or in his possession, … More »

    AP - Sports - 41 minutes ago
  • Whisenhunt looks forward to Titans' minicamp

    New Tennessee Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt looks forward to discovering just how many holes the team filled through free agency. Whisenhunt said Thursday he's eager to see his team and begin an evaluation process that could affect the Titans' draft … More »

    AP - Sports - 41 minutes ago
  • Arizona's Bolsinger gets first MLB win

    Arizona's Bolsinger gets first MLB win

    Pitching only 8 miles from where he grew up, Mike Bolsinger had more nerves than usual when he stepped on the mound at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs. In front of about 20 family and friends, some of whom he hadn't seen in a long time after … More »

    AP - Sports - 45 minutes ago
  • Silver expects no CBA opt-out by union

    NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says he has ''no expectation'' that players will opt out of the collective bargaining agreement in 2017, potentially leading to another lockout. … More »

    AP - Sports - 46 minutes ago
  • NASCAR hopes Track Takeover brings fans

    NASCAR hopes Track Takeover brings fans

    They are calling it ''Track Takeover'' at Richmond International Raceway, and track President Dennis Bickmeier hopes allowing fans onto the racing surface a few hours before race time on Saturday night will not only improve their experience at the … More »

    AP - Sports - 48 minutes ago
  • Yankees RHP Pineda suspended 10 games

    Yankees RHP Pineda suspended 10 games

    New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was suspended for 10 games Thursday after being caught using pine tar. ''I accept it,'' Pineda said before Thursday night's game at Fenway Park. Pineda was ejected in the second inning of Wednesday night's … More »

    AP - Sports - 52 minutes ago
  • Cal Poly baseball team is toast of the West Coast

    Cal Poly has long been known for turning out great engineers and architects. The San Luis Obispo school that produced Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith in the 1970s is enjoying its finest season since joining Division I in 1995. At 35-5, the Mustangs … More »

    AP - Sports - 54 minutes ago
  • Some rules regarding Northwestern union vote

    In the wake of a ruling by a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board that they qualify as employees under federal law, Northwestern football players are voting Friday on whether to form the nation's first union for college athletes. … More »

    AP - Sports - 56 minutes ago
  • The 10-man rotation, starring a very cool time-lapse drawing of LeBron James (Video)

    The 10-man rotation, starring a very cool time-lapse drawing of LeBron James (Video)

    A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out. … More »

    Ball Don't Lie - 57 minutes ago
  • Benfica and Sevilla secure Europa League wins

    Benfica and Sevilla secure Europa League wins

    By Toby Davis LONDON (Reuters) - A stunning late goal from Benfica's Lima left Juventus's hopes of reaching a home Europa League final hanging in the balance after a 2-1 first-leg defeat, while Sevilla won 2-0 against Valencia in Thursday's … More »

    Reuters - 57 minutes ago
  • NFL draft's most precarious pick: Jadeveon Clowney

    NFL draft's most precarious pick: Jadeveon Clowney

    If the South Carolina standout doesn’t live up to his potential, it's more than possible the blame will fall on his coaching staff for not fully unlocking his immense talent. They will get the burden of proof, because look at how talented Clowney … More »

    Yahoo Sports - 57 minutes ago
  • Mets hand Cards' Lynn first April loss

    Mets hand Cards' Lynn first April loss

    Daisuke Matsuzaka pinched his eyelids, clenched his teeth and thought back. After 123 starts during seven seasons in Major League Baseball, the 33-year-old right-hander was turned into a reliever by the New York Mets when they brought him up from … More »

    AP - Sports - 59 minutes ago
  • NCAA proposal for governance change

    Highlights from the proposal to change the NCAA's governance structure, which was endorsed Thursday by the NCAA's board of directors. A formal vote is not expected until the board's quarterly meeting in August: - The five biggest football … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 2 minutes ago
  • New statue of Penn State's Paterno set for 2015 unveiling: alumni

    New statue of Penn State's Paterno set for 2015 unveiling: alumni

    By David DeKok HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Fundraising for a new statue depicting Joe Paterno "as the man he was and not Joe the football coach" is set to begin two years after his image was removed from Penn State University because of a … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 5 minutes ago
  • George Hincapie offers an unvarnished look at cycling in new memoir

    George Hincapie offers an unvarnished look at cycling in new memoir

    George Hincapie was the "Loyal Lieutenant" who helped Lance Armstrong to seven Tour de France titles, only to later provide the key testimony that brought his downfall. Now, Hincapie is talking again about one of the darkest eras in cycling. In a … More »

    The Canadian Press - 1 hour 5 minutes ago
  • Texas' Kouzmanoff to have back evaluated

    Texas' Kouzmanoff to have back evaluated

    Texas third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff was scheduled to be evaluated Friday at home by a back specialist before the Rangers make a roster move to activate Adrian Beltre from the disabled list. Kouzmanoff, who is hitting .362 in 13 games and is the … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 6 minutes ago
  • Gomez helps spark aggressive Brewers' hot start

    Gomez helps spark aggressive Brewers' hot start

    MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The Brewers' new leadoff hitter can aggravate pitchers by slugging homers or stealing bases. Carlos Gomez is flustering foes, and his energetic approach has helped Milwaukee jump out to the best record in baseball. … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 7 minutes ago
  • Legalize it! Joe Maddon jokes pine tar should be legal in Colorado and Washington

    Legalize it! Joe Maddon jokes pine tar should be legal in Colorado and Washington

    Rays manager jokingly compares MLB's pine tar problem to marijuana legalization. … More »

    Big League Stew - 1 hour 7 minutes ago