Days after there was optimism that Dirk Nowitzki could be back in the next week or so, the Dallas Mavericks veteran said Wednesday that he "is still a ways away" from returning from left ankle surgery.
Nowitzki has been out of action since the procedure in April, and there had been hope he was close to making his debut for his 21st season with the Mavericks.
But with the calendar set to turn to December in just a few days, Nowitzki said he isn't ready yet.
"It's going good, but we really only started two weeks ago to run and jump and do all those things, so it's going to take me awhile," Nowitzki told the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday.
"I still don't feel like my legs and my wind are great. Plus our guys are playing really, really well, so I don't feel like I need to rush out there and do anything crazy."
The Mavericks are off to a 9-9 start without their 40-year-old leader, who is set to come off the bench when he rejoins the team.
"We were hoping," Nowitzki said about a November return. "I mean, it feels good. I could probably go out there and play a few minutes but there's really no need.
"I'm going to keep working with the guys on the staff. But I'm definitely heading in the right direction. The ankle doesn't hurt as much and is not as sore all the time. I can make some more moves. So I'm excited, but still a ways away."
Once Nowitzki steps on the court, he will break the record he shares with Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant for most seasons with one team. They are tied with 20.
Nowitzki ranks seventh on the all-time NBA scoring list with 31,187 points after being passed by LeBron James earlier this season. He was the MVP for the 2006-07 season.
Nowitzki was the NBA Finals MVP in 2011 when he guided the Mavericks to their lone NBA title. He has a career average of 21.1 points per game but averaged just 12.0 points last season.
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