Earlier this week, the Dallas Mavericks announced that Wesley Matthews officially exercised his $18.6 million player option for the 2018-19 season. This means that Matthews’ contract will expire after next season, and he will be an unrestricted free agent. Even though Matthews picking up his player option wasn’t a shock, but what does it mean for the Mavs going forward? We asked the MMB staff:
In your opinion, how does Matthews’ decision to pick up his player option impact the Mavericks this offseason and even next season? What do you think Matthews’ future with the Mavs looks like past next season? If you think he’ll stay in Dallas, what kind of contract do you see the team giving him next summer?
Kirk (@KirkSeriousFace): I predict he sticks around all season. The Mavericks value his leadership and work ethic in ways that we take for granted. The Mavericks have to pay someone and it’s not like additional cap space is going to help them (despite what might get discussed, the Mavericks are going to have to overpay for free agents for a while). So I suspect he stays around and even gets re-signed to a reasonable deal so he can finish out his career.
Doyle (@TheKobeBeef): I don’t think it impacts how the Mavs draft at all. They’ll likely get a top-five pick (90 percent chance) so they should be drafting for talent, not based on positional need like last season when they landed both. I also don’t see it dramatically impacting how they approach free agency. Last season, Carlisle repeatedly expressed the need for playmaking wings as the team was essentially devoid of them for much of the season. Other than chasing a marquee center * cough * Boogie * cough * I expect them to be in the market for 3-and-D guys who can play along the perimeter like Matthews.
It’s hard to say what the future holds beyond this season for Matthews. I’m not one to make speculative predictions anyway. I will say this, though: he’s one of the most respected players in the locker room. The players, Coach Carlisle, and Cuban all speak highly of his professionalism and his mentality. He’ll be 32 at the start of next season so, the two parties may consider business/ring-chasing decisions come 2019. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if he stuck around beyond his current contract. For how long and how much, I can’t say.
Dalton (@dalton_trigg): I agree. Unless there’s some unforeseen trade opportunity that comes up, I think Wes sticks around this season and possibly beyond. He’s now on an expiring deal, and that, to me, makes him a more interesting trade piece for a contender. Wes alone probably wouldn’t bring back much in a deal, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see the rumors resurface this offseason and next season.
Again, though, I think Wes probably stays put when it’s all said and done. The Mavs obviously value the guy a lot, and when you hear his teammates talk about him, you know why. I think they value him enough that they’d want to keep him on the roster going forward, just as a quality role player this time, not a starter. I’d be fine with him signing a three-year deal making anywhere from $6-8M per year. Who’s to say Wes even wants to be back beyond this season, though? Wes seems to take things very personal, so between the backlash he’s gotten from the fan base about his contract over the last few years and his name being involved in trade rumors, maybe Wes decides to move on to better opportunities after this season.
Jordan (@Jbrodess): It affects this offseason’s free agent chase, simply because it keeps one foot in the post-title era Mavericks (pre Barnes/DSJ). Matthews will get his minutes in the upcoming season, even if they draft a wing. But I’d be surprised if the Mavs went after any shooting guards in free agency (KCP, Will Barton, Rodney Hood, etc), by pitching them on the idea of playing behind Matthews this year. So it impacts this summer in that regard. However you feel about those players may determine your thoughts on this.
And here’s the thing about Matthews: he took the money offered him and can’t be faulted for that. And I don’t think the front office regrets the move. He’s been a positive influence, and he works his butt off. Teams need leaders like that. I would say it’s pretty likely he’s in Dallas the full season. We writers, and the fan base, tend to undervalue him, and the Mavs probably overvalue him. Other teams aren’t going to give up what the Mavs want in order to move him. Unless it’s something Matthew’s pushes for.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Matthews re-sign next summer. It’s hard to put a price on it, and it depends on what shooting guard looks like for Dallas next summer. If I’m calling the shots, though, I don’t know that I’m going past three years/$24 million.
Sam (@SamGuertler): Like Jordan said, it impacts this offseason’s free agent pursuits. With Matthews locked in for the season, I anticipate the front office trying to resign Seth Curry to bulk up the shooting guard position rather than attempt to sign someone like Will Barton. With at least $18 million committed to the two guard position, it just doesn’t seem prudent to chase after the pricier guards hitting the open market.
As for the future, I’m slowly leaning toward Matthews not being back after this season. The Mavs will be facing tough contract decisions in the coming summers and committing even just a few more years to an aging guard on a team that is desperate for as much youth as possible doesn’t seem likely. Clearly, the front office is enamored with his leadership and work ethic, but I don’t think they will be offering what it would take to keep Matthews on a rebuilding team when he could likely make similar money on a team with playoff aspirations.