Wes Matthews' 'Basketball Soul' - a centerpiece of the Mavs present, the Mavs future ... and Wednesday Mavs Donuts!

Wes Matthews' 'Basketball Soul' - a centerpiece of the Mavs present, the Mavs future ... and Wednesday Mavs Donuts!

DONUT 1: Confident Wes

On March 5th 2014, Wesley Matthews' season with the Portland Trailblazers was prematurely cut short due to a torn Achilles, which he ironically suffered against his new team, the Dallas Mavericks. Since the injury, Matthews has been on a long road to recovery, and despite the gentle suggestion from head coach Rick Carlisle that he will not be ready for the season opener, Wes remains confident. 

                            

 Its good, feels really good,'' Wes said on Monday, one day before making a "non-contact, running and moving'' (coach Rick Carlisle's words) debut at camp on Tuesday. (Go down in the basement with Fish for Your All-Access Practice Pass, premium goodness for just a few bucks a month. So worth it for the best coverage in the game!) "Getting stronger every single day, putting the work in. You know we’ve got the best staff in the league, so we're confident that what I said earlier as far as being ready opening night still stands. I'm trying to be ready by Opening Day. Whether I could play it or not, I can’t really control that, but my goal is to be ready and available Opening Day.”

"Opening Day.'' And this is where the story takes a "Basketball Soul'' turn.

DONUT 2: Christmas, The Question
On Monday, Carlisle was asked if Christmas was a realistic date for Matthews' return. It was just a guesstimate of a question; we all know it could be sooner, we all know if could theoretically be later, we all know it'd be cool if Wes was able to be on the floor and be full-speed by, say, Dec. 1. Why? That is the date of a Mavs-at-Portland game. "The Return of Ironman.'' Irony in reverse.
Answered Carlisle: "It's a definite maybe. ... "It could be sooner. It's hard to say.''

Rick was trying to be playful as part of Media Day. (See all the top 10 Quotes from the day here.Later. Sooner. Christmas. Dec. 1. We really cannot know. The coach's full answer: "Wes is going to take a little longer. He's not going to want to tell you that and we're going to have to fight to keep him off the court, but we've got to make sure we do this the right way." 

DONUT 3: Christmas and Idiots
Rick, after reading the Tuesday morning paper, or some websites, or something, was no longer trying to be playful on the target date.
                               
 
"Some idiot today had some headline saying that Wes wasn’t going to be back until Christmas,'' Carlisle groused after the first camp practice. "I never said that."
Why does this matter? Because the coach is protecting his player. Keeping the flames lit. Maintaining a lofty goal. And respecting the fact that Wes Matthews possesses the exact thing that Fish and DB.com have written about last year's team lacking: A "basketball soul.''
Wes' is worth protecting.
DONUT 4: 'Basketball Soul,' in words
Despite the grueling recovery, the doubts, and the new surroundings, Wes is motivated and confident in his ability to bounce back, and become and even better player than he was before. He could, in theory, get fat-and-sassy with the four-year, $70-mil deal and lowered expectations.
But no.

“I'm not confident that I'm going to be that player,'' Matthews said, reflecting on what he was before the injury. "I’m confident that I’m going to be better than that player.'' 

DONUT 5: 3 and D?
Before his injury last season, Matthews was putting together a very solid year, averaging 15.9 points per game, as well as 38.9 percent shooting from three. This season, when he's ready and if this works, his presence will give Dallas the ability to spread the floor as well as give them solid defense on the perimeter. While the Mavericks surely coveted his ability to shoot from deep, and his defensive capabilities -- and have long desired to employ a player with those skills and star quality, too --  Matthews wants to be known as more than just a “three and D” guy. 
                                

Said Wes: “I don't want to be a three and D guy, I don't want to be just a post player, I don't want anybody to be able to say he's this, he's that. I just want you to think of me and say we need to him on our team, we need him on the court.”

 
DONUT 6: Stay in touch!
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Follow our gang on Twitter: Zack CunninghamJohnny AupingChuck CoopersteinMatt GalatzanSkin Wade and the boss at FishSports are all part of the family .. 
                 
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DONUT 7: Leadership heir?
This has forever been a Dirk-led locker room and that's a very good thing. But it's not only time for an heir to his superstardom on the court (too much to ask of Wes or Parsons or Deron or whomever), it's also time to develop the off-the-court leadership and the chemistry that stems from it. While many will likely question the Mavs team chemistry this season -- look at all these new guys? How can they mesh? -- Matthews once again oozes with confidence about his team ... something that his teammates will undoubtedly feed on. 

“Yeah, I mean we can talk X's and O's, we can talk defense, offense, toughness, blah blah blah, we talk all that stuff, but what will make the team special, and what I see here, is the chemistry,'' Wes said. "Stuff that you guys will never see, won't be able to write about. You have to sense it, and it's coming, and it’s there.”

                                              

We saw negative chemistry. We felt it. We wrote about it. Rondo is gone. Wes is here. In this category, an upgrade, no doubt.

DONUT 8: See you at The Maverick Bar!
Texas-flavored burgers that are the talk of the town. A choice of beers with a list of 80 to choose from. A 200-inch screen along with 30 TVs for your Cowboys, Rangers, college football and of course Mavs viewing pleasure. And live music on the weekends! Our hangout is The Maverick Bar in Carrollton ... make it your neighborhood hangout, too! 
 
DONUT 9: There are "If's''

We're not trying to paint an overly rosy picture here. Still resonating from Rick Carlisle's Monday talk: "If cows were kittens, there'd be a milk shortage.'' (Read more from Dallas' "Iffy State of the Union'' addresses here. That was specifically about DeAndre's DeParture. But that's not the only "if'' around here.

Carlisle knows this. Wes wants to help solve this.

DONUT 10: The Doubters
Throughout his basketball career, Matthews has been doubted at every turn. He has been labeled as everything from overrated to over-paid, going undrafted in the 2009 selection process, and now facing questions about the size of his contract. With this injury however, Matthews is facing an entirely new challenge. 

“It was like no one challenge I’ve ever endured, because I couldn't pin it on anybody,'' he said. "I can’t pin it on a writer that wrote that I was overpaid, or not worth this. I couldn't pin it on a coach that's snubbed me, or G.M. that didn't draft me. It was against myself and I’ve embraced the challenge ...''

DONUT 11: Justin, for now
This camp is very much going to be about injury rehab, about conditioning, about developing chemistry and, depending on the wait on Wes, about the development of rookie Justin Anderson, who to no one's surprise, brings up the names of the "new heirs'' when it comes to who's big-brothered him.
"When I need help,'' he said, "(Wes and Chandler Parsons) are there to help me."
Basketball soul.
 
DONUT 12: The Final Word

                                          

Before the Mavs can beat the Spurs or the Rockets or the Blazers, they have to "win'' against foes down in their own basement. Wes' foe is the justification of confidence and the Achilles and the rehab and the climb.

                                        

Right now, I’m kicking its ass,'' Wes Matthews said of that foe. "So I’m excited for anything that’s coming my way.”


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