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NBA News and Notes: December 14, 2018

Let’s take a look around the NBA at some of the biggest news and notes surrounding the league.

Nowitzki Set For Season Debut

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki is set to make his NBA season debut on Thursday night against the Phoenix Suns. Nowitzki was officially listed as “inactive” for the first time on Wednesday night after being listed as questionable up to that point. Nowitzki has missed the Mavericks first 25 games of the season as he is dealing with a left ankle injury. He underwent surgery near the end of the 2017-18 season, and suffered a setback during training camp that forced him to take more time to heal. Nowitzki is playing in an NBA record 21st straight season with one team, and is just 232 points behind Wilt Chamberlain for 5th place on the all-time NBA scoring list. The 13-time All-Star is the only international player in NBA history to score more than 30,000 points.

Valanciunas Dislocates Thumb

Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas will miss some time after dislocating his thumb on Wednesday night. The injury occurred on a routine play during the second quarter of the Raptors blowout win over the Toronto Raptors. Valanciunas was forced to leave the game and did not return. The Raptors are expected to update a timetable for his return, but his absence is a huge blow to the best team in the NBA. Valanciunas is averaging 13.0 points and 7.2 rebounds while coming off the bench for the Raptors this season.

Popovich Now Fourth In Wins

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is now the fourth most winningest coach in NBA history. Popovich earned his 1,211 victory on Wednesday night to move past Pat Riley on the all-time list. He now has his sights set on legendary Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. Sloan racked up 1,221 victories during his successful NBA coaching career. Don Nelson is the all-time winningest coach in NBA history with 1.335 victories. Popovich has posted a .686 regular season winning percentage during his Spurs career, and has guided San Antonio to five NBA Championships.

Butler Misses Wednesday’s Game

Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler was forced to miss Wednesday night’s game with a groin injury suffered on Monday night. Butler was forced to leave Monday night’s game in the first quarter, and did not return to action. An MRI revealed that there was no structural damage, but Butler was held out for precautionary reasons on Wednesday night. Butler is averaging 19.8 points per game with the Sixers since being acquired on November 19.

Tristan Thompson Out 2-4 Weeks

Things have gone from bad to worse for the Cleveland Cavaliers as center Tristan Thompson could miss up to a month with a foot sprain. Thompson suffered the left foot sprain during Monday night’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. The veteran center has been the lone bright spot for the Cavaliers this season, averaging 12 points and a career high 11.6 rebounds per game. Thompson underwent further tests that determined that the injury was more serious than the initial thought. The Cavaliers (6-21) announced that Thompson will miss a minimum of two weeks, but he could be sidelined for up to a month.

Abdur-Rahim Named G League President

Former NBA All-Star Shareef Abdur-Rahim has been named President of the NBA G League. Abdur-Rahim will replace Malcolm Turner who will be stepping down on January 11, 2019 to become the Athletic Director at Vanderbilt University. Abdur-Rahim is currently the NBA Vice President of Basketball Operations. The 42-year-old Abdur-Rahim previously spent five years as with the Sacramento Kings organization, serving as an assistant to the general manager and an assistant coach. He also spent the 2013-14 season as the general manager of the G League’s Reno Bighorns. Abdur-Rahim was the third overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, and played 12 seasons in the league. He averaged 18.1 points per game during his career and was named an All-Star during the 2001-02 season. The NBA G League features 27 teams with a direct connection to an NBA franchise. 53 percent of NBA players at the end of the 2017-18 NBA season had some experience playing in the G League.