When Wesley Matthews signed on with the Dallas Mavericks, he was viewed as one of the best “three and D” shooting guards in the NBA. In his final year as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers, Matthews was having a career-best season before enduring a brutal achilles injury (against the Mavs, ironically). Take a look at how Matthews’ numbers have suffered since coming back from an injury that’s historically hard for NBA players to recover from.
For a guy coming off such an extreme injury, Matthews’ points, rebounds and assists totals are more than what we could have hoped for. However, it’s Matthews’ efficiency that has taken the biggest hit. Every since signing with Dallas, Matthews has hovered around an overall field goal percentage of 39 percent. To be a legit starting-caliber shooting guard in the NBA, that’s just not going to cut it, especially if you expect to contend for a championship, or even the playoffs for that matter.
Defensively, Matthews was still able to get it done, especially earlier in the season when he wasn’t worn out. No play this past season shows just how valuable Wes can be on the defensive end of the floor than when he completely shut down Damian Lillard to secure a 96-95 victory in Portland. If the Mavs can add more talent this offseason, maybe Matthews can preserve some of that energy for later in the season and possibly the playoffs.
Wes Matthews gave Dame Lillard nothing on that final possession pic.twitter.com/L9nnHNeanX— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) December 22, 2016
Matthews has two years remaining on the four-year, $70-million deal he signed back in the summer of 2015 after DeAndre Jordan went back on his word. He is set to make $17.9 million in 2017 and $18.6 million in 2018. Although that is a ton of cash to spend on a shooting guard who hasn’t been shooting well, the NBA salary cap rising from $94-million to a projected $101-million will help out some.
There has been speculation about the Mavs possibly trading Matthews this summer. However, I think it would be much more likely for Wes to be traded in the 2018-2019 season when he’s on an expiring contract. There aren’t many teams (if any) that would be both willing and able to take on Matthews with two years and nearly $37-million remaining on his contract.
If he were to be traded, I like the idea of the Minnesota Timberwolves getting involved. They have an abundance of young talent already, so they might be willing to take on his remaining contract “for the culture,” so to speak. With Kevin Garnett retired, it would do the Wolves good to have a glue guy like Matthews. Of course the Mavs would have to take some salary back in the deal (probably Nikola Pekovic), but if they’re able to persuade Minnesota swap the sixth pick for the ninth in the upcoming NBA Draft, they should definitely go for it.
Even with everything mentioned above, Matthews deserves at least one more season with Dallas before moving on. One reason for optimism is the arrival of Nerlens Noel. Assuming the Mavs sign Noel to a long-term deal this summer (if they didn’t, I think we’d all revolt), Matthews will no longer shoulder the burden of being the team’s defensive anchor.
Since Matthews’ overall numbers (if not percentages) are so similar to his last season with the Blazers, could it be that he’s just been over exerting himself as the Mavs’ go-to guy on defensive? As hard as he works, I think that really could be a possibility, and playing a full season with a young, motivated, defensive-minded center could be the relief Matthews has been looking for.