And-Ones: Matthews, Harden, Hunter

Wesley Matthews says he is fully recovered from the Achilles tear he suffered in 2015 and predicts much stronger results for his second campaign with the Mavericks, Earl K. Sneed of relays. “I want the season to start now,” Matthews said. “I’m a whole different person. 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.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Despite the roster and coaching changes the team has made, the Rockets will only go as far as James Harden takes them, writes Oliver Maroney of Basketball Insiders. The guard is one of the most criticized players in the league, Maroney notes, something that GM Daryl Morey disagrees with. “He’s only a polarizing figure to people who don’t watch,” Morey told Maroney. “Players voted him MVP [in 2014/15] for a reason. He’s had a winning team every season of his career, with multiple Conference Finals appearances.
  • The Long Island Nets, Brooklyn’s D-League affiliate, named Ryan Gomes and Pat Rafferty as assistant coaches, the team announced via press release.
  • ESPN’s Chad Ford (Insider subscription required) released his first mock draft for 2017. The current top three, according to Ford, are Markelle Fultz (Washington), Harry Giles (Duke) and Josh Jackson (Kansas).
  • R.J. Hunter, James Young, John Holland, and Ben Bentil are expected to compete for the Celtics‘ final regular season roster spot, though Hunter appears to have the advantage heading into the preseason, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe writes. Regardless of any advantage he has, Hunter plans on earning his place on the team, Himmelsbach adds. “I’m a competitor, so it’s just absolutely motivation for me,” Hunter said. “I think it just adds an extra competitive spirit to training camp, which is a great way to get the year started. So I’d rather have it that way, because now I have no reason not to be on my toes on every possession and at every practice. So I’ll try to use it to my advantage.”
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