LOS ANGELES (AFP) - The Dallas Mavericks will slowly ease Dirk Nowitzki back into the fray as the veteran German star recovers from a lingering Achilles problem, a report said on Monday.
Nowitzki missed Sunday's National Basketball Association victory over the New Orleans Pelicans after complaining of soreness in his right Achilles despite showing signs of improvement recently.
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle told The Dallas Morning News he would not hesitate to rest Nowitzki as the 38-year-old battles back to fitness after playing only five of 16 games so far this season.
"This is part of the recovery," Carlisle said. "Getting him better, we're going to have to take it incrementally. There's not like there was any big setback."
He said he expected Nowitzki's recovery process would run into December.
"He's come a long way in a four-plus week period. But it's an Achilles strain and it's taking time," Carlisle said. "My hope is that it can be complete sometime in December, sooner than later. But we just got to be patient with it. He's too important to us. If we have to play without him, we'll play without him."
Mavs owner Mark Cuban meanwhile said there was "every expectation" that Nowitzki's injury was "not serious".
"It's dramatically better ... he just felt it again, so there's no reason to take a chance. We're just being cautious," Cuban said.
Nowitzki has played for the Mavericks ever since joining from DJK Wurzburg in 1998. He was the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player during the team's 2011 championship year and is a 13-time NBA All-Star.
The Mavericks are currently languishing at the foot of the Western Conference standings with a dismal 3-13 record.