Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki participated in three-on-three basketball after Monday afternoon’s practice and is inching closer to making his season debut.

Dirk Nowitzki underwent ankle surgery in April and his recovery is going slower than expected.

“It’s good to see him playing against some NBA players today,” forward Harrison Barnes said, via Dwain Price of Mavs.com. “He’s usually playing against the interns, so it’s been fun to see this.

“He’s getting close and we can’t wait to get him back out there.”

This year is Nowitzki’s 21st campaign with the Mavs, setting an NBA record for the most seasons with a single team. The future Hall of Famer signed a one-year, $5 million deal in July. Once again, Dirk took a discount so the Mavs could improve its roster.

Head coach Rick Carlisle confirmed there is no exact return date for the Dallas legend, but he emphasized that Nowitzki is doing the work to get back on the court soon.

“Dirk’s getting closer,” Carlisle explained. “I just don’t have a date for you. He just got to keep working. He’s got to keep working on strength, playing simulation games with some of our guys at the half court game. Just simulations of getting spring and moving and recovery and all of that.

“It’s never going to be the same as running out there with real NBA players and an arena full of people and all of that, but you got to do what you can do. He’s been doing the work, his recoveries have been better and better, so I certainly think this month it’s going to happen if all continues to go well.”

In 77 regular season games last season, Nowitzki averaged 12.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists while shooting 45.6 percent from the field, 40.9 percent from 3-point range and 89.8 percent from the free-throw line.

The fans in Dallas are itching to see Nowitzki play. Even though rookie phenom Luka Doncic has gotten off to a stellar start to his career, Mavs Nation’s heart is still and always will be with Dirk.