Wesley Matthews’ third season with the Dallas Mavericks was cut sixteen games short due to a stress fracture in his right fibula. But the gritty, never-say-die veteran shooting guard continued to be a “heart and soul” guy for this team on and off the court this year. He finished the season averaging 12.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 63 games. Matthews has been a very solid defender since he signed on with Dallas back in 2015, but his shooting percentages have been less than stellar.
Before the season, I predicted that this would be Matthews’ best season as a Maverick. Although Matthews’ point, rebound and assist totals dropped slightly, he shot the ball more efficiently from the field overall and from deep. From last season to this season, Matthews increased his overall field goad percentage from 39.3-percent to 40.6-percent and his three-point percentage from 36.3-percent to 38.1-percent. Matthews also saw his effective field goal percentage rise to 51.6-percent. All of those percentages are the highest Matthews has had since his final season with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Although none of those numbers are eye-popping, it was encouraging to see Matthews continue to improve his efficiency. It was also nice to see his occasional offensive outbursts throughout the season this year.
What Wes has been able to accomplish, after coming off a brutal Achilles injury with the Blazers three years ago, remains incredible to me. He truly lives up to his nickname, the “Iron Man.”
Matthews has a player option for this summer, meaning he could accept his guaranteed $18.6 million for the 2018-19 season or he could decline the option and enter unrestricted free agency this summer. Matthews will turn 32 years old next season, so it’s hard to see him declining his player option this summer. After his current contract is expired, I’m not even sure if Matthews will make over $18 million for the remainder of his career, so he would be smart to take the money while he still can.
One idea that has crossed my mind a few times this past season is the possibility of Matthews opting for long-term stability with the Mavs, rather than entering free agency after next season. For example, let’s say Wes declines his $18 million player option for next season, but then turns around and signs with the Mavs for a total of $26-28 million stretched out over three years. Not only would that save the Mavs some cap room when they go free agent shopping this summer, but they’d be able to keep one of their best “glue guys” around to continue mentoring Dennis Smith Jr. and other younger guys on the team, even after Dirk Nowitzki decides to call it quits. I still don’t think Wes will decline his option, but I could see a scenario like that playing out well for both sides.
If he does accept his player option, Matthews would be on an expiring contract heading into next season and (in my opinion) an interesting trade piece. Last season, some trade rumors surfaced about the Mavs being willing to trade Matthews for a first-round draft pick. Even though something like that still seems unlikely, the fact that Matthews’ contract will expire this summer could be enticing to a team looking to shed some salary. They would get a serviceable veteran that’s also a high quality locker room guy, and they’d have the chance to sign him on to a cheaper contract when free agency comes around in 2019 if they’d like.
Regardless of which way Matthews chooses to go in regards to his contract situation, you can hang your hat on the fact that he’s going to continue bringing the fire night in and night out for the Mavs or whatever team he’s playing for.