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Dirk Nowitzki to miss rest of season after undergoing ankle surgery

Dirk Nowitzki underwent surgery on his left ankle on Thursday morning and will miss the remainder of the Dallas Mavericks' season, the team announced.

The procedure was a debridement of his left ankle performed by Dr. Eugene Curry and Dr. Daniel Worrel at the Carrell Clinic in Dallas.

The surgery is considered relatively minor and is not expected to affect Nowitzki's decision on whether to return for a 21st season. Nowitzki has repeatedly said that he wants to play next season if his body is willing, and sources said those plans have not changed.

"We expect a full and rapid recovery," a team source told ESPN.

After playing in Tuesday's win over the Portland Trail Blazers, Nowitzki did not travel with the Mavs for Wednesday's loss to the Orlando Magic. He was listed as out due to left ankle impingement.

Nowitzki, 39, the sixth-leading scorer in NBA history, averaged 12 points and 5.7 rebounds in 24.7 minutes for the 24-55 Mavs this season, playing almost solely at center after spending the majority of his career at power forward. He played 77 games, the most ever for a player in his 20th season, and shot 40.9 percent from 3-point range.

The Mavs have a team option for Nowitzki's $5 million salary next season, but owner Mark Cuban has made it clear that he hopes the longtime face of the franchise will play another season.

Nowitzki, who is only 232 points behind Wilt Chamberlain for the fifth spot on the all-time scoring list, would break a record for longest career with only one franchise by returning to the Mavs next season. Nowitzki and Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant are the only players in NBA history to spend a 20-year career with only one team.