Nowitzki a changed man on a changed Mavs squad

Associated Press Modified: September 28, 2012 at 4:33 pm •  Published: September 28, 2012
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The 7-foot Nowitzki said when he got back on the court before last season he couldn't even touch the bottom of the backboard.

"The startup was a lot easier than last year. ... This year I can touch it a little bit," he said. "I feel good, I feel refreshed, I'm ready to go."

Coach Rick Carlisle, who got a new four-year contract this summer, is excited about having a lot of new guys at multiple positions. It will take time to incorporate eight new players in the system, including three or four in the regular playing rotation. Two or three of the newcomers will be starters.

But they will have 31 days together before the regular season opens Oct. 30 at the Los Angeles Lakers. And Carlisle plans to adjust to the players, instead of just trying to cram them into the Mavericks system.

That includes getting to where Collison, their new point guard, is able to direct things on the court much like Kidd did.

"My ongoing goal is to call less or no plays if we can," Carlisle said. "We want our guys to make plays, not call plays."

Right after Dallas acquired him in a trade from Indiana, Collison started watching film of his new teammates to determine how they played and where they liked to get the ball. Collison knows Nowitzki sets the tone.

"Dirk is so good, he doesn't need anybody to get him going. He gets himself going," Collison said. "He'll do a good job helping us get on pace with him."

Nowitzki won an NBA title with Kidd, thought there was a chance to be playing with Williams and then it looked as if there might be a Mavericks reunion with old friend Steve Nash, twice an NBA MVP after leaving Dallas for Phoenix.

Nash instead wound up with the Los Angeles Lakers.

"It was definitely weird to see Steve in a Phoenix uniform," Nowitzki said. "It will be weirder to see him with a Lakers jersey."