The Mavericks are interested in signing Wes Matthews for $12 million per year while Matthews is still gunning for $15 million, according to a report by USA Today Sports' Sam Amick.
The two parties met in Los Angeles on Tuesday night while a different Mavericks party simultaneously met with DeAndre Jordan. Reports had surfaced that Matthews had wanted $15 million a year prior to free agency and before the injury, that was a reasonable figure for the services of the 3-and-D swingman. But now, either figure is a lot of money.
Before his Achilles rupture towards the end of the 2014-15 season, Matthews had earned the nickname "Ironman" for never missing games. He even had a consecutive games played streak over 200 at one point of his career. Now he might not ever be the same player.
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An Achilles tear is the worse muscle tear you can suffer in the NBA, at least among "common" injuries. While the ACL is feared because of its frequency and recovery time, athletes usually can return to where they were prior to the injury in less than year. An Achilles doesn't promise anything of the sort -- in fact, from 1992 to 2012, seven of the 18 NBA players who suffered an Achilles tear never returned at all.
Here's a good look at the injury from Chris Towers of CBS Sports back in March:
(Dominique) Wilkins is the obvious best-case scenario, as he kept a string of seven-straight All-Star game appearances alive in his return from the injury in 1992-93. He actually averaged more points in his first season back, improved his shooting, continued to get to the free-throw line, and barely saw dip in his rate stats. He stands out as the outlier, and is basically the only player to return from a ruptured Achilles at something close to his previous form.
On the worst-case scenario side of the ledger, Kobe Bryant stands out, though he was significantly older than Matthews at the time of his injury. Bryant famously played just six games in his return before a knee injury sidelined him for the season again. Billups was in and out of the lineup for a few months before being shut down as well upon his return. The injury also essentially ended the NBA careers of Voshon Lenard and Mehmet Okur, and Dan Dickau lasted just three more seasons as a role player, after averaging 29.4 minutes in an age-26 breakout.
Players can and have completely recovered, but others have lost athleticism and explosiveness. For Matthews, who has limited explosiveness already and relies on lateral movement to be a quality defender, that's a huge question mark.
Clearly the Mavericks have interest in Matthews. A lot of it will come down to how many years and which party controls the option. Two years with a team option for $12 million per year might be a fantastic option while something upwards of three years closer to $15 million could severely backfire and leave the Mavericks with no room to operate in the post-Dirk era.
This post has been updated with new information about Matthews and the Mavericks' contract negotiations.