The Mavericks feel like they have an all-new starting backcourt this season, even though Wesley Matthews and Deron Williams are both returning, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. The Mavs signed both players during the summer of 2015, but they were dealing with injuries that limited their effectiveness. Matthews was coming off surgery for a ruptured left Achilles tendon and was noticeably slower throughout the year. Williams, who received medical clearance this week to participate in the start of training camp, underwent surgery for a sports hernia after Dallas was eliminated from the playoffs.
“I hope D-Will can stay healthy,” said Dirk Nowitzki. “I think when he was healthy last year, he was a key player for us, at times even our best player, so hopefully he can stay healthy. And I’ve heard Wes was a beast in the gym basically since we lost [in the playoffs]. I hear he’s in unbelievable shape and ready to go. It should be another fun, hopefully exciting and competitive year.”
There’s more news out of the Southwest Division:
- Harrison Barnes hasn’t been a featured scorer since high school, but Dallas is counting on him to be one this season, writes Shaun Powell of NBA.com. After Barnes became expendable when Kevin Durant committed to the Warriors, the Mavericks gave him a four-year, $94MM contract and projected an expanded role for him in their offense. Barnes averaged 10 points and 4.6 rebounds per game in four years with Golden State.
- Monty Williams, who joined the Spurs Friday as vice president of basketball operations, hasn’t ruled out a return to coaching someday, tweets Jabari Young of The San Antonio Express-News. In the meantime, the Spurs will groom Williams for a front office role.
- The Rockets swapped out one frequently injured player for three, write Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders in the site’s season preview of Houston. Dwight Howard may have taken his back problems to Atlanta, but Rockets signed three free agents in Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Nene who have long injury histories of their own.