DALLAS (AP) — Dirk Nowitzki is a new dad with a couple of new guards joining him in the starting lineup for the Dallas Mavericks.
The 7-foot German star hopes his knee acts like new as well.
Nowitzki, whose daughter was born during the summer, thinks the Mavericks can make Plan B work after saying during the offseason that the franchise had to have one in case Dwight Howard chose to play elsewhere.
When the former Orlando and Los Angeles Lakers center picked Houston, Dallas made long-term commitments for the first time since Nowitzki re-signed before the franchise's first championship season in 2010-11, adding guards Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon to a roster with nine newcomers.
The idea was to make life a little easier for the 35-year-old Nowitzki after knee surgery kept him out the first 27 games last season and the Mavericks missed the playoffs for the first time since his second year in 2000.
"I think as much pressure as we'll take off Dirk, I think he'll take more pressure off us," said Ellis, who figures to shoulder some of the scoring load. "How defenses play him, it will really open up a lot to drive, kick, find players. My ability to create for myself and others I think is going to be great."
Center Samuel Dalembert is Nowitzki's new partner in the starting frontcourt, and three veterans were added to the bench in guards Devin Harris and Wayne Ellington, and forward DeJuan Blair.
Harris started his career in Dallas as the No. 5 overall pick nine years ago, and Blair was with the rival San Antonio Spurs his first four seasons.
Defensive stalwart Shawn Marion and Vince Carter, whose career was rejuvenated at the 3-point line, are the other two key veterans coming back alongside Nowitzki.