When the Dallas Mavericks signed shooting guard Wesley Matthews to a lucrative four-year, $70-million contract this summer, they did so with full knowledge that he probably would not be ready for opening night of the 2015-16 season. The torn Achilles tendon that Matthews suffered on March 5 typically requires a lengthy recovery, one that the franchise would presumably be willing to endure given their long-term investment in a player who turns 29 before the start of the upcoming campaign. To that end, head coach Rick Carlisle has already said that the team plans to be careful with its new addition.
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Matthews has different plans. In a new interview with Tim Cato of Mavs Moneyball, the ex-Portland Trail Blazers guard says that he has every intention of returning for opening night, October 28, when the Mavericks visit the Phoenix Suns:
"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."
There is a superficial disagreement between Matthews and the Mavericks on the course of his comeback, but it seems fairly easily to resolve given that player and team do not need to approach his rehab in the same manner. As the person actually undergoing the rehab process, Matthews must set high goals for himself to ensure that he accomplishes all that he can and gets himself in the best possible shape to contribute to the team. Yet the franchise can afford to take a broader view of the situation and decide when a return will help the team most. Matthews and Dallas will obviously have to reach some sort of agreement when he is closer to full health, but for now it's fine if he focuses on getting in good shape as soon as possible even if the Mavericks don't intend to rush him back. Whatever helps him make progress is good for everyone involved.
This is yet another example of how professional athletes do not always have to view their situations logically. In fact, such perspective usually hurts them more than it helps. Just as a player can foolishly declare himself the best in the game prior to the season and then come very close to proving himself correct, someone can set unreasonable rehabilitation expectations and improve upon the standard timetable simply through sheer force of will. Matthews, like many others, could need to be unrealistic to be at his best.
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