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Dirk Nowitzki dealing with identical knee injury as in 2011-12

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Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki is preparing to play the upcoming NBA season on the same balky right knee he had trouble with last season.

According to the Star-Telegram, the Mavs' leading offensive threat feels he's in better shape and has strengthened his leg around the knee, but continues to deal with swelling and soreness as he prepares to begin his 15th NBA season. By now, Nowitzki is used to dealing with his knee as long as he doesn't do further damage:

"Obviously, I'm a year older than last year. Other than that, I think the only difference is my leg strength this year is actually really good.

"So hopefully it'll be OK from here on out.''

Nowitzki only missed four games last season due to the knee injury, but he had fluid drained to reduce swelling twice. While Nowitzki hopes the swelling eventually goes away, he's had the knee drained twice already during training camp.

Last season, Nowtizki led the Mavericks with 21.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game which were his lowest totals since his second year in the league.