Dallas Mavericks: Holger Geschwindner

Can Holger help Rondo? They're trying

February, 23, 2015
Feb 23
1:00
PM CT
DALLAS – Rajon Rondo, a basketball savant who has never figured out the art of shooting, quietly observed Holger Geschwindner working with his masterpiece on the Dallas Mavericks' practice court before the All-Star break.

After his shooting session was done, Dirk Nowitzki made an offer to his point guard, if not a suggestion.

“If you want to work with Holger, now is the time,” Nowitzki told Rondo, mentioning that Rondo would be sidelined another week to 10 days due to facial fractures. “You’re more than welcome.”

As Nowitzki recalled the moment, he added: “And Holger obviously loves challenges in his life.”

Rondo’s unconventional, ineffective shooting stroke certainly represents a challenge. It’s always been the biggest flaw in the four-time All-Star’s game. That poor touch from the perimeter and midrange is the reason one of the NBA’s premier playmakers is an awkward fit in the Mavs’ free-flowing offense.

To his credit, Rondo, who earned a reputation for being difficult to coach in his younger years, embraced the opportunity to work with Dirk’s longtime mentor and shot doctor.

Rondo started shooting with Geschwindner immediately after Nowitzki made the suggestion – a partnership the media got a quick glimpse of after Thursday’s shootaround in Oklahoma City – and continued until Holger packed up his flannel shirts and blue jeans and headed back to Germany on Friday. Rondo plans to continue following the program that Geschwindner, who will return for the playoffs as is his custom, put in place.

Rondo, however, does not necessarily expect immediate results. He reasonably expects his two weeks of working with Geschwindner to be the beginning of a long-term process.

“It’s a lot different,” said Rondo, a career 26.1 percent 3-point shooter and a 31.1 percent shooter from the free throw line this season. “Some things are not comfortable, but that’s part of it. It’s early in the process. Obviously, Dirk is one of the greatest scorers of all time. He’s worked with Dirk since he was 10, 11 years old. It’s going to take some time, but he’s very positive and I pretty much understand all of his methods.”

Can Rondo progress with the program Geschwindner put in place without supervision from the German shot guru?

“It’s hard,” Nowitzki said. “I mean, I’ve been doing it, obviously, for 20 years, and when he’s gone for six weeks, sometimes I look like I haven’t shot with him in forever. Obviously, that’s when mistakes creep in. It’s hard to keep it up, but even if he just gives him one point that he thinks about when he shoots, that could help.”

No, the placement of Rondo’s shooting elbow was not the one point. For Rondo to become a respectable shooter, he will have to drastically alter his form, keeping his elbow straight underneath the ball instead of cocking it at an awkward angle. But that sort of massive mechanical overhaul is best done during the offseason, not midseason.

Geschwindner actually provided Rondo two points of emphasis: the arch of his shot and his footwork follow through.

“Sometimes I land and I’m not straight facing the basket,” Rondo said. “I think you see Dirk do it – he spreads his legs a lot when he shoots so he can stay on line. That [and] the arch on the ball.”

Rondo is far from the first of Nowitzki’s teammates who have borrowed his shot guru. Brandon Bass and Devin Harris have probably benefited the most from working with Geschwindner, who stays at Nowitzki’s home and travels with the team during his annual early-season, midseason and playoff visits.

Owner Mark Cuban has attempted to make Geschwindner a permanent member of the Mavs’ player development staff. (“If that’s the case, Cuban can pay for an apartment,” Nowitzki cracks, only half-kidding.) However, Geschwindner is committed to keeping his home base in Germany, where he still trains teenage basketball prospects.

Suffice to say, Rondo’s work with Geschwindner received the enthusiastic blessing of the Mavs’ bosses.

“Holger helps everybody he works with,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I’m pretty certain that work is going to be a positive thing. Holger is a pretty brilliant guy when it comes to shooting. I don’t know if there’s anybody on the planet I’d recommend more for that.”

And there are few, if any, NBA players who stand to benefit more from Holger's help than Rondo.
DALLAS -- The man in the plaid flannel shirt has arrived for his annual midseason visit.

Holger Geschwindner, who has been a mentor and shot doctor for Dirk Nowitzki for two decades, flew in from Germany on Monday and attended the Dallas Mavericks' win over the Minnesota Timberwolves at the American Airlines Center. He’ll travel with the team on its road trip and stick around at least until the All-Star break, putting his prized pupil through extra shooting sessions to fine-tune Nowitzki’s Hall of Fame form.

Nowitzki isn’t certain exactly how long Geschwindner will stay in the states this trip. Their routine over the years has been for Geschwindner to travel to the All-Star Game with Nowitzki, but for only the second time in the last 14 years, Nowitzki isn’t part of the NBA’s midseason showcase.

“So I’m not sure if he’s leaving before or staying or what he’s doing,” Nowitzki said.

One thing is clear: The 36-year-old Nowitzki is going to get a break from basketball during the All-Star break.

“I’m going somewhere to enjoy a few days and I’m not taking him,” Nowitzki said, cracking a smile. “That’s a good thing.”

Can Holger help Parsons? Dirk thinks so

October, 27, 2014
10/27/14
12:00
PM CT
DALLAS -- Holger Geschwindner, the mentor and shot doctor who molded Dirk Nowitzki from a gangly teenager into a top-10 all-time scorer, has arrived for his customary early-season visit.

Geschwindner’s flight from Germany landed on Sunday afternoon. He spent the evening with Nowitzki on the Dallas Mavericks' practice court, putting his prized pupil through a shooting session that is a nightly ritual during Geschwindner’s three-times-per-season visits.

SportsNation

Will the Mavs win their season opener against the Spurs?

  •  
    70%
  •  
    30%

Discuss (Total votes: 7,939)

After playing such a critical role in Dirk’s development, couldn’t Geschwindner help 26-year-old Chandler Parsons reach his potential?

“I think we can work on a few things,” said Nowitzki, who cites perimeter shooting as the primary area of Parsons’ game that the Mavs’ new $46 million man can improve significantly.

Can Parsons handle working with a man Nowitzki half-kiddingly calls the “nutty professor"?

“I’m not sure,” Nowitzki said, smiling. “That’ll be a fun first meeting.”

That meeting is expected to happen Monday, when Geschwindner will join the Mavs for the short flight to San Antonio. Perhaps Parsons, a 37-percent career 3-point shooter, will join Geschwindner and Nowitzki in a San Antonio gym Monday night.

(Read full post)

One-on-one with Dirk: Life after playing

June, 18, 2014
6/18/14
10:00
AM CT
 Dirk Nowitzki Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty ImagesDirk Nowitzki says he could see himself being a personal coach, like his mentor, Holger Geschwindner.

ESPN Dallas recently held court with Dirk Nowitzki. In this series, Nowitzki shares thoughts about his past, present and future.

While there's still expected to be at least a few years left in his career, Dirk Nowitzki has begun to consider what the next stage of his life will bring. While he isn't exactly sure what he'll do when he decides that he can no longer play basketball, he understands it will be hard to hang up his sneakers.

"Basketball has given me so much over my career that I'm sure that I can't just walk away and never do anything with basketball for the rest of my life," Nowitzki said. "That's just not going to happen. It's been my life all the way until I got married and had a kid. It was definitely the biggest thing in my life."

Maybe he has a life in front of the camera.

Former teammate Steve Nash ran a series of documentaries for Grantland titled "The Finish Line." As part of the series, Nash reconnected with Nowitzki near the end of this season, and they reflected on their past as former teammates. Over the years Nowitzki has noticed that Nash has done quite a bit with his own production company. Nowitzki joked that Nash could help him once basketball is over.

"I always told Nash that he's got to get me a job once I'm done," Nowitzki said with a laugh.

Realistically, it wouldn't surprise anyone if Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wanted Nowitzki to stay with the organization in some capacity. We've already seen that former Mavs great player/_/id/242/michael-finley">Michael Finley is a fixture around the team and front office. Cuban already has mentioned it's possible someone such as Jason Terry could return to the organization once he retires.

While something like that always is going to be on the table, Nowitkzi knows he doesn’t have to make a decision now. The biggest thing for him is ensuring that the game he loves remains fun. For him, as long as he's playing and having fun, he still has time to contemplate what his future holds.

One intriguing thought for him is the possibility of coaching.

"Some of the stuff Holger has done with me, I'd love to keep that going," Nowitzki said of his mentor and personal coach, Holger Geschwindner. "Holger mentioned it to me before, 'What you have learned from me, I want you to give to someone else someday.' Maybe I'll do that a little bit later -- individual coaching."

While coaching could theoretically be in his future, Nowitzki doesn't figure to follow in the footsteps of former teammate Jason Kidd, now coach of the Brooklyn Nets.

"I don't think I'll ever be a team coach," Nowitzki said. "I saw with J-Kidd how he's interested in plays and thinking ahead. That doesn't interest me. I don't care how you get me the ball. Just get the ball to me.

"Plays and stuff like that never interested me. It was just the skill level that interested me. I'm sure if I'm a coach one day I'll do what Holger did for me, or what coach [Tim] Grugrich did here for us in the championship year, where you take the younger guys and work out every night. We'll just have to wait and see."

Grugrich was instrumental in aiding the Mavs en route to their title during the 2010-11 season. Known as something of a basketball guru, Cuban hired Grugrich to be an assistant/consultant for the team.

It's becoming a very common trend in today's NBA to have individual coaches work with star players. Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade has Tim Grover. And Kobe Bryant at one time had Mike Procopio, who now works as a director of player development for the Mavs.

In addition, centers or low-post players now request to spend time with Hakeem Olajuwon during the summer so he can help work on their game. If Olajuwon can work with the low-post players, it's not out of the realm to see Nowitzki working with the shooters for the next generation.

Nowitzki is known as a gym rat, spending late nights on the court getting up shots or early mornings to do the same thing. Encouraging younger players to take time for extra shots and teaching what Geschwindner taught him could be the perfect transition for Nowitzki when the time comes for him to move to the next stage of his life.

As scouts and general managers travel the world to find the next Dirk to take care of their needs on the court, it wouldn't hurt to have the real Dirk there to guide some of those newcomers through the rigors of the NBA.
Kevin Durant, Dirk NowitzkiLayne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty ImagesKevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki have a similar workout program and mutual respect for each other.
DALLAS -- If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, a four-time scoring champion copying your unique training program is about as high a compliment as can be offered to an NBA player.

That’s the case with Kevin Durant following in the one-legged footsteps of Dirk Nowitzki, as reported in great detail by ESPN.com’s Marc Stein.

Durant, the MVP favorite whose Oklahoma City Thunder might face Nowitzki’s Dallas Mavericks in the first round, has gone so far as to hire a Holger Geschwindner pupil to put him through workouts similar to those that helped Dirk develop from a skinny kid in Wurzburg, Germany, to the 10th-leading scorer in NBA history.

“I'm not even sure if he needs it,” Nowitzki said. “I mean, he's one of the best players on the planet. He's already got the whole package.

“Credit to him that he loves working out, he loves getting better. And he's already one of the best players ever or in the league now. He's constantly in the gym, working out on the road, working out at home. That's a credit to him being hungry and constantly improving.

“To me, he's got the whole package. He can shoot off the dribble, he can post, he can shoot from 3 anywhere. He's already pretty good.”

Pretty good, of course, is a great understatement with Durant. Once his fourth scoring title becomes official at the end of the regular season, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain will be the only players in NBA history to have more. At 25 years old, Durant is almost halfway to the exclusive 30,000-point club, which Nowitzki could join as the sixth member in a few years.

(Read full post)

Dirk hot again with Holger's help

April, 5, 2014
4/05/14
10:00
AM CT
LOS ANGELES – Holger Geschwindner had seen enough.

Geschwindner hopped on the first flight from Germany to Dallas he could book after watching his prized pupil struggle through one of the worst shooting nights of his career, continuing a funk with a 2-of-12 outing in a March 23 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

[+] Enlarge Dirk Nowitzki
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty ImagesDirk Nowitzki's numbers have been on the uptick since mentor Holger Geschwindner came to visit.
Check out Dirk Nowitzki's numbers since Geschwindner arrived in time for a shooting session before the Mavericks’ next game: 26.3 points per game, 56.4 field goal percentage, 45.2 3-point percentage.

Scoff about the cause-and-effect implication if you want, but Nowitzki busted out of a mini-slump and got hot during his longtime mentor/shot doctor’s midseason visit, too.

“That’s why I like having him around,” coach Rick Carlisle cracked about Geschwindner, the flannel-shirt and leather-jacket-wearing guru who played such a major role in developing Nowitzki from a raw, skinny 16-year-old into a 16-year NBA veteran who ranks 11th on the all-time scoring list.

Nowitzki doesn’t hesitate to say how much Geschwindner’s visits -- which typically occur three times per season -- help him.

“He definitely helps my shot,” Nowitzki said after scoring 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting in Friday’s win over the Los Angeles Lakers while Geschwindner watched in the Staples Center stands. “I was in a little funk. He usually comes later, but I wasn’t shooting the ball well on the homestand. I had some bad outings, so it’s always good to see him.

“He’s helped me throughout my whole career. I wouldn’t be the player I am now without him. He still helps me. Little mistakes creep in that I don’t even notice. Even when he’s not there, I work on my shot almost every day, but it’s just stuff that I don’t see.”

(Read full post)

ESPNDallas.com columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor and MavsOutsider.com editor-in-chief Bryan Gutierrez will join me each week to run a three-man weave on a few questions on the minds of Mavs fans.

1. How can Rick Carlisle help Dirk Nowitzki get in an extended groove?

[+] Enlarge Dirk Nowitzki
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty ImagesKeeping Holger Geschwindner in town to help Dirk wouldn't hurt.
Gutierrez: Make sure that Holger Geschwindner can stay in town until the playoffs are over. It appears his return back to Dallas is just what the doctor order as Nowitzki bounced back from his worst shooting performance of the season against Brooklyn with a stellar one against Oklahoma City. Fatigue is going to be an issue, especially with unnecessary overtime games, but it never hurts to have his mentor here. Holger established confidence in Nowitzki's game earlier in his career. He now brings comfort to the veteran's game. Whether it's confidence or comfort, both are great for Dallas' face of the franchise. Rest would be ideal, but it appears keeping Holger in town is the best move Carlisle can make.

Taylor: There's nothing Carlisle can do to get Nowitzki in a groove. Nowitzki knows what he needs -- and as we saw against Oklahoma City, it's usually a visit by Holger -- and understands how to get out of a mini-slump. When Nowitzki is aggressive, he's fine. The dude is 14th in the NBA in scoring (21.2) and he played with an emotion against Oklahoma City that he can't ratchet up every night. He was fist-pumping and into the game in the second quarter because he knew it was a huge game for the Mavs. He's 35. There will be lulls in his play from time to time, but for the most part -- somehow -- Dirk remains Dirk.

MacMahon: Holger’s arrival sure helps. However, a shot doctor can’t cure the biggest concern with Nowitzki: 70 games worth of wear and tear on those 35-year-old legs. Carlisle must continue to do everything in his power to help keep Nowitzki as fresh as possible. That means short shootarounds, light practices, even giving the big German days off. Resting him for a game or two down the stretch simply isn’t a luxury the Mavs have, and as Carlisle noted Tuesday morning, it’s not something Nowitzki would allow right now, anyway. Carlisle can help with occasional playcalling if for whatever reason the rock isn’t getting to Nowitzki, especially at his sweet spots a little bit above the block, but the Mavs are at their best when they’re playing random flow basketball. The best thing Carlisle can do is keep his team on edge. When the Mavs play gritty defense, things tend to be a lot easier for Nowitzki offensively.


2. Other than Nowitzki and Monta Ellis, which player will be most critical to the Mavs' playoff push?

SportsNation

Which role player is most critical to the Mavs' playoff push?

  •  
    28%
  •  
    16%
  •  
    56%

Discuss (Total votes: 970)

Gutierrez: You can make a case for two or three players, but I am going to go with Jose Calderon. In a quirky but true stat, the Mavericks are 1-3 in games where Calderon either was unable to play or unable to complete a game due to injury. He's a liability on the defensive end of the floor, but most of the players on this squad are. Calderon's ability to space the floor and be a calming influence as a point guard has proven to be invaluable for this team. If this team is going to rely on their scoring, they need Calderon as that bailout option scorer.

Taylor: Devin Harris can be the X factor because he can effectively drive to the bucket and, more important, stay in front of some of the quicker point guards the Mavs will face the rest of the season. He can play 20-25 minutes a night, which should keep Calderon fresher and even Monta Ellis a break from time to time. He also gives Carlisle an option on the nights when Calderon isn't playing well.

MacMahon: They need the Samuel Dalembert who has been showing up the last week. The numbers are nice – 7.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 2.8 blocks in 23.3 minutes per game on this homestand – but that’s not how the Mavs measure Dalembert’s outing. It’s all about effort, energy and intensity. When Dalembert plays with fire, he provides an interior presence nobody else on the roster is physically capable of bringing to the party. The Mavs need Dalembert to be a 20-plus-minute-per-game monster to be decent defensively. He’ll be especially important if the regular-season finale against Marc Gasol and the Memphis Grizzlies is a win-or-go-home affair.

3. Should Samuel Dalembert be back in Dallas next season?

[+] EnlargeSamuel Dalembert
Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY SportsSamuel Dalembert has had his share of highs and lows with the Mavs.
Gutierrez: For a rotational center, $3.87 million isn't a terrible cap hit. I don't really have a problem bringing Dalembert back next season, but the important caveat is that he returns as a backup center. That role likely takes DeJuan Blair out of the mix, but Dalembert is a better fit as a backup. He's far too inconsistent, so Dallas can't really depend on him being the starting center if they have aspirations of getting into the playoffs and making a deep run. It will take some creative work by the Mavericks to improve the center position because the free agent market isn't overly stout. That said, as silly as it sounds based on his peaks and valleys play over the course of the season, it's not a bad idea bringing Dalembert back as long as they have a better option ahead of him on the depth chart.

Taylor: I'd like to have Dalembert back, and I'd really like to have him back as the Mavs' backup center. That would be tremendous. Then you'd have some real options on those nights he didn't come to play -- and he might be the kind of guy who responds to that. He's been playing well lately, but the problem with Dalembert is you can't trust him. No matter how good he plays you're always wondering when he's going to give you one of those pathetic games that leaves you scratching your head.

MacMahon: He’s guaranteed $1.8 million of next season’s salary, so the Mavs would gain less than $2 million of cap space by letting Dalembert go. They better have a really good reason for needing that money if Dalembert doesn’t return to Dallas. Dalembert has earned some criticism this season, but he’s more than earned every dollar of his salary, too. If not for his baggage, he’d be making a lot more. It’d be nice to make him a backup, but the Mavs have done much worse (and pricier) than having Dalembert as a stopgap starter again.

Have no fear: Dirk's mentor Holger is here

March, 25, 2014
3/25/14
6:35
PM CT
DALLAS – How does Dirk Nowitzki work his way out of a slump? Some sessions with personal shot doctor and longtime mentor Holger Geschwindner tend to help.

There’s no better time than now for Geschwindner, who accompanied Nowitzki to the American Airlines Center before Tuesday night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, to arrive in Dallas from Germany.

Nowitzki is fighting through one of his worst funks of the season, shooting just 41 percent from the floor and 30.8 percent from 3-point range over the last five games. He’s coming off one of the worst shooting nights of his career, a 10-point, 2-of-12 outing in Sunday’s overtime loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

Geschwindner, who was here during Nowitzki’s hottest stretch of the season in February, typically makes three visits per season: one early, one midseason and one late, sticking around through the Mavs’ playoff run. This visit is a little earlier than normal. It’s not known if it was planned that way with the Mavs needing to make a push to make the playoffs or bumped up a bit due to Nowitzki’s recent struggles.

There’s no doubt, however, that the gray-haired guy in a plaid shirt and leather jacket is a welcome sight for the Mavs’ star.
DALLAS -- It’d be a stretch to give Holger Geschwindner the credit for Dirk Nowitzki’s hottest streak of the season.

After all, it started the night before Nowitzki’s longtime mentor arrived in Dallas from Germany, with the Mavericks star scoring 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting against the Detroit Pistons to begin the four-game homestand that ends Monday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. But Geschwinder’s presence and the supervised extra shooting practice has certainly helped the big German stay hot.

 Dirk Nowitzki
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty ImagesSince Holger Geschwindner landed in Dallas on Tuesday, Dirk Nowitzki has put together his first two back-to-back 30-plus-point performances since April 2012.
Geschwindner, who helped transform Nowitzki from a gangly teenager into the best European player in NBA history, no longer puts his pupil through grueling conditioning sessions. They dropped the sprints, leapfrogs and Eastern bloc training methods from the midseason workouts about five years ago, understanding that Nowitzki needed to save his legs for games as he got older.

The Holger workouts now are essentially fine-tuning sessions for the sweetest jump-shooting 7-footer in NBA history.

“More just technique stuff. Sometimes just not even moving much,” Nowitzki said. “Stand there and shoot some 3s, shoot some pull-ups, shoot some turnarounds.

“When he’s not here so long, sometimes little mistakes creep in that I just don’t really or can’t really correct myself. Small little hints. It might be, ‘Just get the ball up a little higher. Watch your fingers.’ Small little stuff creeps in, so that’s why he’s always good when he comes over.”

Since Geschwindner landed in Dallas on Tuesday, Nowitzki has put together his first two back-to-back 30-plus-point performances since April 2012. He lit it up for 38 points in Wednesday night’s loss to the Houston Rockets and followed that up with 34 points in Friday’s win over the Sacramento Kings.

The Holger visits always happen twice during the regular season and again in the playoffs. The routine they’ve kept throughout Nowitzki’s 16-year career has been Geschwindner staying for a couple of weeks early in the season and coming back for a couple of weeks around the All-Star break.

After seeing Nowitzki struggle on the Mavs’ last road trip, when he averaged only 17.5 points on 39.4 percent shooting in two games and sat out another one to get some rest, Geschwindner decided to move up his midseason trip a bit.

“He surprised me,” said Nowitzki, who is averaging 33.3 points on 60.7 percent shooting during this homestand. “He kind of showed up out of nowhere.”

There is a comfort level that comes with the workouts under the supervision of a mentor Nowitzki has known most of his life. There’s also a psychological effect, although not nearly as big as it used to be.

“Way better when I was younger,” Nowitzki said. “Sometimes he made me feel a lot more confident. Now, I think in games I can do better adjustments now than I could 10-12 years ago. If I have a bad shooting first half, I think I can adjust a little better with experience now than I did 10 years ago, but it’s still good to always have him, get some shots up and get in that old routine I’ve been doing my whole career.”

It’s hard to argue with the results.

Holger's coming to ready Dirk for season

October, 23, 2013
10/23/13
11:13
PM CT
DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki feels like he’s just about ready to start the regular season.

Here comes longtime coach and mentor Holger Geschwindner to help with the finishing touches.

"Unfortunately, it's going to be some late nights in here," Nowitzki said with a laugh after scoring 17 points in the Dallas Mavericks’ preseason win Wednesday night over a bunch of Atlanta Hawks backups.

[+] EnlargeDirk Nowitzki
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports

Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki posted 17 points Wednesday against the depleted Hawks. But he anticipates big work ahead in long nights with mentor Holger Geschwindner.

Geschwindner, the Wurzburg, Germany, resident who was been working with Nowitzki since he was a raw, skinny, floppy-haired teenager, is scheduled to arrive from their homeland Thursday. He’ll stay through the first couple of weeks of the regular season, putting his Hall of Fame pupil through nightly practice sessions that have become the stuff of legend throughout the course of Nowitzki's career.

"He might give me a night off here or there," said Nowitzki, 35, who is entering his 16th NBA season. "Maybe I'm too old to go back to the gym every night. We'll find a good rhythm."

Geschwindner has eased up at least a little bit on Nowitzki as the big German enters into the golden years of his career.

The workouts aren't nearly as intense and strenuous as they were during the first decade or so of Dirk's NBA tenure. Geschwindner's goal is no longer to develop Nowitzki. It's to help Nowitzki, whose 11-year All-Star streak was snapped last season, maintain his elite form.

"When I was 25, we were doing all sorts of crazy stuff in the gym -- the frog leaps and handstands and all that stuff," Nowitzki said. "We cut that down over the years. Now, it's a lot more shooting, some technique stuff. But all the athletic stuff we used to do, all the old Russian workout we used to mix in, all the Eastern bloc stuff, we cut out over the years."

Physically, Nowitzki feels better than he has in a couple of years. The knee soreness and swelling that bothered him the last two preseasons -- leading to arthroscopic surgery that sidelined him for two months last season -- isn't a factor. He's in phenomenal shape after extending his offseason workout program. He's moving better than he did a year ago.

"Now, it's about getting one more game, probably playing a little bit more minutes, then getting some practice, getting some shots up at night," Nowitzki said. "And then I'll be ready to go."
DALLAS – It’s been exactly six weeks since Dirk Nowitzki underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

The Mavs are being mum about whether Nowitzki has resumed basketball activities, as he had hoped to do at this point, but there was a pretty strong hint hanging out on the balcony above the Mavs’ practice court Thursday. His longtime mentor and personal coach Holger Geschwindner has arrived in town.

“He’s doing a little bit more each day,” coach Rick Carlisle said of Nowitzki, “but it’s not time for a Dirk update each day.”

Carlisle noted that Geschwindner also worked with other players on the Mavs’ roster. Geschwindner did put Rodrigue Beaubois through drills after Thursday’s practice, but it’s unlikely he flew in from Germany to work on a third-string point guard’s game.

Nowitzki, who originally hoped to resume basketball activities a few weeks after the operation despite the official announcement that it’d take “about six weeks,” recently said that he hopes to be playing in games by mid-December.

“There is no timetable,” Carlisle said. “It’s going to be whenever Mother Nature and his rehab merge, whenever that magic moment is.”

The art of Dirk's one-legged leanaway

May, 12, 2011
5/12/11
9:54
AM CT
DALLAS – The most drastic change to Dirk Nowitzki’s offensive game during the second half of his career has been the addition of a one-of-a-kind go-to move to his arsenal.

You won’t see anybody else shoot the one-legged leanaway on a regular basis. And you certainly won’t see coaches teaching the fundamentally flawed shot that Dirk knocks down much more often than not.

Nobody taught the shot to Nowitzki. It’s just something he developed naturally while trying to find ways to score when he gets the ball in post-up situations.

Nowitzki’s sessions with longtime mentor Holger Geschwindner have always included all sorts of crazy shots, such as left-handed midrange bank shots. They also do a bunch of odd-looking drills designed to improve Dirk's balance. But the one-legged leanaway isn’t something that was cooked up in Holger’s lab.

“It’s not really something I practiced a lot, especially out of the post,” said Nowitzki, who also occasionally goes one-legged leanaway off the dribble, sort of a reverse runner. “We do shoot some runners with Holger off one leg, but never really the one-leg stepback. That’s just something that developed in games and helps me get a little separation to get the shot off.”

It’s one of the most unique go-to moves in NBA history. It probably ranks behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s famed sky hook – “the best in the game ever because it’s so hard,” Dirk said – as the most unblockable shots in basketball history. How can a defender possibly get a hand on a ball hoisted by a 7-footer who has a bent knee in the way and is leaning away?

Having said all that, Nowitzki knows it’s not a textbook move.

“Sometimes I think about it and don’t want to shoot it, because it is a soft shot, especially when guys are still close and can walk up under me,” Nowitzki said. “Then it’s not a good shot. Really, it’s all about when I can see if [the defender] is really leaning hard. Can I get a little separation and get it off? If not, then it’s probably not a good shot.”

If so, it’s usually money.

Nelson on offer: 'Mark doesn't mess around'

July, 2, 2010
7/02/10
2:00
PM CT
Shortly after Dirk Nowitzki dropped the bombshell after the Game 6 loss at San Antonio that he would explore the possiblity of opting out of his contract to become an unrestrictred free agent, owner Mark Cuban suggested on a radio program that it wouldn't surprise him if Nowitzki did opt out, but only in order to re-sign at a friendlier rate.

That wouldn't appear to be the case now that Nowitzki is an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his 12-year career. Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson presented an offer Friday morning to Nowitzki's advisor, Holger Geschwindner, as longstanding negotiations continued. While Nelson wouldn't confirm the details of the deal, it is believed to be for the max -- four years and $96 million.

Here's what Nelson had to say just prior to the start of the free-agency period when asked if the Mavs would offer Nowitzki a max deal: "As you know, Mark doesn't mess around with the big deals. Yes, we're not going to mess around with this."

Asked if it was possible that Nowitzki would good-naturedly agree to a lesser deal, Nelson said: "Well, that all depends on Dirk."

Will Nowitzki be worth $24 million -- his would-be annual average salary -- at age 36? Maybe not, but the Mavs have little choice.

Bewilderment aside, Mavs, Dirk set to meet

July, 2, 2010
7/02/10
10:43
AM CT
Well, that was fun. Nothing like a little mystery and intrigue to kick off free agency. Not that the Dallas Mavericks were particularly thrilled with the ever-changing travel itinerary of No. 1 free-agent priority Dirk Nowitzki.

Throughout the ordeal, the Mavs, at best, looked disorganized.

There is ample bewilderment about Nowitzki's handling of this, too. His adviser Holger Geschwindner told ESPN.com's Marc Stein that three last-minute changes were simply due to a "tight" travel schedule. The mystery there is why did Nowitzki have such a tight travel schedule? July 1, such a critical day in Nowitzki's and the franchise's future, had been circled on everyone's calendars for a long, long time.

None of it makes much sense. But, nonetheless, Nowitzki is in Dallas and there remains little reason to believe he won't soon be agreeing to a new four-year contract worth as much as $96 million. Yes, while in New York, Nowitzki visited old buddy Steve Nash, who looks to be on the verge of losing pick-and-roll pal Amare Stoudemire.

Amare out, Dirk in?

Not so fast. The best news of the free-agency period so far for the Mavs happens to be as warped as the past 48 hours. When the Suns agreed to re-sign 3-point shooting center Channing Frye, it absolutely blew up any potential salary-cap space maneuvering that might have reunited Nash and Nowitzki.

Now we wait for Nowitzki to meet with Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban today. The club can't announce contract status until July 8, but Nowitzki can announce his allegiance to the Mavs anytime. It would figure a quick resolution is coming. But, we still don't know exactly what's running through Nowitzki's mind, and so far, nothing has been easy to figure.

Stop that plane! Donnie staying, Dirk coming

June, 30, 2010
6/30/10
2:50
PM CT
Dallas Mavericks president Donnie Nelson was in the ticket line at DFW shortly before he was to board a flight bound for Germany to meet with Dirk Nowitzki at the very moment the free-agent gates open tonight.

Then his cell rings. It's Dirk's personal coach and mentor Holger Geshchwindner. He tells Donnie not to board that plane. He and Dirk are coming to Dallas! (Thanks for the advance notice, Holger.)

Nelson was 45 minutes away from flying to Germany and being completely removed from those critical first few hours of free agency. Let's hope the Mavs' communication pipelines are less clogged when dealing with other free agents.

"It's great. It's a positive sign," Nelson said of Nowitzki's plans to come to Dallas. He and Holger get in Thursday, and the three will meet at Dirk's house.

Meanwhile, Nelson is now free to call the agents of free agents at 11:01 tonight.

"It frees me up," Nelson said. "AT 11:01 tonight I can work the phones and do all those things. We're going to call them all, from the A-level all the way down to minimum (salary) guys."

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Monta Ellis
PTS AST STL MIN
19.3 4.2 1.9 33.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsT. Chandler 11.4
AssistsR. Rondo 6.4
StealsM. Ellis 1.9
BlocksT. Chandler 1.3