Back on March 5, early in the third quarter in a game against Dallas, Wesley Matthews started a drive and went down without contact. It turned out to be a ruptured Achilles tendon.
By pretty much the next day, Matthews talked about coming back sooner rather than later — and even a standard timeline would have him back around the start of the season. That drive is part of the reason Dallas signed him to a four-year, $70 million contract this summer.
“I’m getting stronger every single day, doing more every single day,” Matthews told Mavs Moneyball, saying that he’s currently shooting and dribbling on the court. He’s also taking pull-up jumpers off the bounce, but the next thing that he will be cleared to do is just “more basketball activity using more force, more explosion….
“I’m gonna say I’ll be ready by opening night,” Matthews said. Later on, when asked if would put that prediction in stone, he said yes.
“Anybody that knows me in this league knows that I’m going to give 150 percent,” Matthews said. “You’re going to have to kill me to stop me from going. Only thing that I can do is how I attack my rehab.”
This is going to set up an interesting push and pull between Matthews and coach Rick Carlisle (and Dallas management). Carlisle has talked about taking it slow with Matthews, not rushing or risking injury for a player they signed for four years. They don’t want him rushing back, not feeling comfortable, compensating with another body part, and suffering an injury. Think Kobe.
By the end of the season, when Dallas is likely fighting for one of the bottom playoff spots in the West, they are going to need Matthews and everyone else on the roster to make the push. But expect Carlisle and company to win the early battle — don’t be shocked if Matthews has limited minutes at the start of the campaign.