Dirk Nowitzki has reportedly undergone arthroscopic knee surgery. The Mavericks subsequently issued a statement that the 34 year old star will be able to resume "basketball activities" within 6 weeks.
Mike Prada reports:
If Nowitzki misses the full six weeks, he would return on December 1 and be out of action for 16 games. The Mavericks have a relatively soft early schedule -- they have eight games against playoff teams from a year ago, but only three are against teams that advanced past the first round -- so they could tread water until Nowitzki returns...
The Mavericks' best hope is that they play above their heads defensively for the first month of the season and get just enough offense to be around .500 by the time Nowitzki comes back. That'll be a tall order, though, even against an easy schedule. If the Mavericks can't accomplish that goal, they may cede their playoff spot to another up-and-coming squad.
Few teams rely on one player to carry them the way that Dallas does. In fact, almost every other playoff caliber team can probably absorb an injury to its best player and not be hindered too greatly. However, in the West where there will likely be 6-8 teams vying for 4 playoff spots, Dirk missing nearly a quarter of the season may put Dallas in a hole too great to overcome.
Also, "basketball activities" is intentionally ambiguous. Does that mean that Dirk will not be able to even practice for those 6 weeks? Will he need another 3-4 just to get back into game shape?
Unfortunately for the Mavs, their 2012-13 season's playoff hopes may be in jeopardy before a single regular season game is played.