Wesley Matthews will seek a multi-year deal that pays approximately $15MM annually, according to Sam Amick of USA Today. A source with knowledge of the situation told Amick of Matthews’ intentions, which refutes a report last month that indicated the unrestricted free agent guard was willing to give the Trail Blazers a discount. Matthews essentially confirmed Amick’s report to Jabari Young of Comcast SportsNet Northwest on Monday evening, saying “I don’t think that’s an unreasonable number.” (Twitter link)
The contract that Matthews seeks is a mild surprise, considering that he tore his left Achilles’ tendon in early March. However, Matthews has already returned to basketball activities and is expected to be ready by the start of the next season, Amick reports, though he might have to proceed with caution during the preseason. Matthews could still re-sign with the Blazers, who could also lose Arron Afflalo, the player who replaced him in the lineup. Afflalo plans to decline his $7.75MM player option and become an unrestricted free agent.
Prior to the injury, Matthews was enjoying arguably his best season. He was averaging 15.9 points and 1.3 steals per game and had a gaudy player efficiency rating of 16.1. He shot 38.9% from behind the arc and only the Warriors’ Splash Brothers’ duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson made more three-pointers per game. Defensively, he ranked fifth among shooting guards in ESPN’s Defensive Real Plus/Minus.
Matthews calculates that the major increase in the salary cap beginning next season gives him more leverage, since players with his proven track record will become more costly to acquire, Amick adds. The Knicks and Celtics are two of the teams that may make a run at Matthews. Amick also raises the possibility of the Spurs or Mavericks signing Matthews as a means to lure teammate, close friend and unrestricted free agent LaMarcus Aldridge.