- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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DALLAS – Dirk Nowitzki isn’t going to be a Sixth Man of the Year candidate at the end of the season, but he will continue coming off the Mavs’ bench for now.
That’s the easiest way for the Mavs to manage Nowitzki’s minutes as he eases his way back from a much-longer-than-expected rehab process following Oct. 19 arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
However, coach Rick Carlisle reserves the right to sub Nowitzki a minute into Thursday’s game in Oklahoma City if the Mavs get off to an ugly start.
“I’m just telling you he’s coming off the bench and we’ll see where it goes,” Carlisle said. “If there’s a limited number of minutes we can play him, to burn those up at the very beginning when there’s no timeouts the first six minutes is tough on him and it doesn’t make sense for us. So our starters got to hold the fort.
“And then we get him in there and he’s still on his second game in. It’s going to be a process.”
After getting some extra post-practice conditioning work in, Nowitzki dashed up the stairs and into the trainers’ room for treatment, declining to talk to the media Wednesday.
There’s no doubt, however, that Nowitzki is on board with his temporary role as a reserve. He originally made the suggestion to bring him off the bench for a few games a month ago.