(REUTERS) - Dallas Mavericks icon Dirk Nowitzki hopes to make his season debut in December.
Nowitzki has been recovering from surgery in April to remove bone spurs from his left ankle. He had expected to be ready for the start of the season but experienced a setback prior to training camp.
But now the German can feel himself getting closer to being ready to go.
"It's just hard when I haven't done much for eight weeks and there's a 40-year-old basically starting from scratch to try to get back in shape to play NBA minutes," Nowitzki told reporters. "Hopefully soon. Hopefully, somewhere in December I'll be ready and the body will respond the right way."
Nowitzki is in his 21st season with the club and will come off the bench once he returns.
The Mavericks are proceeding cautiously with Nowitzki, who began running on a treadmill two weeks ago but hasn't progressed enough to participate in practice sessions with his teammates.
"The reason why we're taking it so slow now is once I get out there, I want to finish the rest of the season healthy," Nowitzki said. "I don't want to come back too soon now and then have setbacks again like I did with the Achilles a few years ago. Next thing you know, I missed another few weeks."
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 averaged just 12.0 points last season.