Soon-to-be free agent Wesley Matthews will miss the rest of the season after tearing his left Achilles tendon in Thursday’s win against the Mavs, the Blazers announced (Twitter link). Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports first reported the news. It’s a crushing blow not only to Portland’s title hopes but to the Jeff Austin client, who appeared poised for a lucrative contract in free agency this summer.
The 28-year-old was averaging 16.1 points in 34.0 minutes per game on 39.1% three-point shooting with a career-best 16.1 PER this season. The trade deadline acquisition of fellow shooting guard Arron Afflalo looms even larger for the Blazers in the wake of Matthews’ injury. It’s too late for Portland to apply for a disabled player exception, but the team does have an open roster spot, another product of that Afflalo trade.
Matthews hinted before the start of the season that he had no intention of leaving the Blazers when he hit the open market in July, and last month he made his preference to stay in Portland clear. The Knicks nonetheless apparently plan to give chase. The Cavs were reportedly a trade suitor for him this season, though it’s unlikely they end up with enough cap flexibility to make a competitive contract offer for him in the offseason.
Just what sort of money a healthy Matthews would have merited isn’t exactly clear, but he was probably set for a significant raise on his salary of more than $7.245MM this season, likely into eight-figure territory, though that’s just my speculation. The torn Achilles clearly hurts his value, though Matthews, a sixth-year veteran, has only missed 13 regular season games in his NBA career. He said tonight that he’ll try to heal within five months, according to Jabari Young of CSNNW.com (Twitter link), which would bring him back to the court in August. Matthews nonetheless acknowledged a more common timetable would encompass about eight months, Young also notes, putting him in line to miss the first few games of the regular season in 2015/16.