The Dallas Mavericks are being extremely careful with their many veterans due to the lockout-induced compressed season, which is why the return dates for Vince Carter, recovering from a foot injury, and Dirk Nowitkzi, working on conditioning and strengthening his knee, are still up in the air.
Carter, who has missed the last five games with a sprained left foot, practiced on Thursday and said there's a chance he may return Friday, when the Mavericks host the Utah Jazz.
Dirk, meanwhile, has reportedly been making great progress in preparing his body for a marathon stretch of games over the next four months.
However, he wavered on his possible return date, which was initially projected to be Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs.
Dallas has gone 3-2 since Carter's injury against the LA Lakers, with youngsters Rodrigue Beaubois and Brandan Wright making good use of the extra playing time and Shawn Marion and Lamar Odom increasing their offensive production.
The Mavericks have dramatically improved their depth from last season, when they went 2-7 in Dirk's absence, which has been a life-saver for a veteran team trying to squeeze 66 games into four months.