Matthews said he’d play opening night.
Matthews was right.
He played in Dallas’ first game and 77 others last season. The problem: He didn’t play that well. Matthews meandered through arguably his worst pro season.
Matthews, via Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com:
“I’m a whole different person,” the 29-year-old Matthews said. “I’m a whole different player, and I’m really just excited to get out there and show it, and just to be who I know I can be and just to continue to grow. Obviously, it was different coming off of an Achilles (injury) and not having four or five months to prepare and all that stuff, and jumping right into the season being physically able to play every single game and play heavy minutes. It took until about after the All-Star break for me to get my legs back, because I play both ends of the court. And I feel better than when I got hurt.
I’ll need to see it to believe it.
Considering Matthews age, time might not be enough to return his production to pre-injury levels. He did improve after the All-Star break, but not enough to put concern behind him.
The stakes are high for the Mavericks, who still owe Matthews $53,652,528 over the next three years. Not only could Matthews’ decline hinder their ability to win a reasonable amount in Dirk Nowitzki‘s final years, it could limit their inevitable post-Nowitzki rebuild.
Hopefully, Matthews feels as good as he says, but players tend to be overly optimistic in these situations. On the other hand, Matthews backed up his similarly daunting declaration last year.