“It was pretty much clear in my head that I’m coming off the bench”

The European torch is being passed on in Dallas, as a German accepts a bench role, a Slovenian is about to start. Dirk Nowitzki is about to play in his 21st NBA season and for the first time, he will start from the bench. “When we signed DeAndre, it was pretty much clear in my head that I’m coming off the bench,” Nowitzki said at the Mavs’ media day Friday. “It’s all about winning, at the end of the day. Whatever puts us in the best position to win is what we’re going to roll with, and coach Carlisle has obviously shown over his time here that he’s willing to try anything.”

 

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In the previous few seasons, Dirk’s first quarter minutes were quite limited but Carlisle started him so he wouldn’t cool down after warmups before entering the game. Dirk obviously planned for that as well: “If that’s the case, and I’m coming off the bench, we better keep [an exercise] bike ready and keep a couple of massage therapists in the back, and I’ll be ready to go.” Coach Carlisle expanded on his plans for the season: “It’s pretty obvious at this point — and Dirk knows this, and we’ve talked about it — that we have to move the franchise forward the right way,Dennis [Smith Jr.] and [Wesley] Matthews and Harrison [Barnes] and Luka and DeAndre right now look to me like the best team to start games. We need Wes out there to guard the best wing player, the best perimeter player. We need DeAndre out there to be our center. And I think the other pieces fall into place.”

The new star in Dallas is Slovenian Luka Doncic who impressed everyone during the summer. At times described as “the best player on the court” in Dallas, the potential he has is undeniable. Doncicspent the summer at P3 in San Diego where he’s been visiting since he was 16 to prepare his body for the NBA. Speaking about Doncic in a recent interview on Dallas radio’s 105.3 The Run, Dirk said: “I could shoot a little bit [at 19], but I never had the court vision, the savviness and the stuff that he brings to the game. Just the way he already reads pick-and-rolls. You go under, he shoots. If the man goes over, he kind of keeps him behind him like the best, like Chris Paul and these guys do. He does all of that. He’s going to be fun — fun to watch.” Nowitzki pointed out the struggle he had his entire first season moving from Europe to the NBA and that he will do everything he can to help him in the transition. “But I think his transition should be a lot smoother than mine back in the day. His English is better, he plays with a savviness I never had, I might still not have it.” Dirk was full of praise and obviously sees a bright future for young Doncic.

photo by Keith Allison