Wesley Matthews

Pacific Notes: Schröder, Bjelica, Barnes, Holmes, Bazemore

After being held out of his team’s game against Brooklyn on Thursday due to the league’s health and safety protocols, Lakers point guard Dennis Schröder was not at practice Friday and it’s “uncertain” if he will be available against Miami on Saturday, per head coach Frank Vogel (Twitter link via Dave McMenamin of ESPN). “There’s no timeline,” Vogel said.

The Lakers started Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Wesley Matthews in the backcourt with Schröder sidelined.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Heat continue to have interest in Kings forward Nemanja Bjelica, according to the Sacramento Bee’s Jason Anderson, and they got a good look at him on Thursday. With Richaun Holmes and Harrison Barnes sidelined, Bjelica made his first start of the season and scored 25 points with eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. Bjelica is making $7.15MM and the Heat have a $7.6MM trade exception to absorb Bjelica’s contract, Anderson notes. Bjelica has temporarily rejoined the rotation the last four games. “To be honest with you, I work my (butt) off,” Bjelica said. “That’s what everybody’s supposed to do when you’re out of the rotation or you don’t play or you play less.”
  • Barnes sat out with a left foot strain and Holmes missed his second game in a row due to right knee soreness. Kings coach Luke Walton said both players are expected back “very soon,” Anderson notes in the same story.
  • Veteran swingman Kent Bazemore erupted for 26 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals for the Warriors against Miami on Wednesday. He’s become a valuable option for coach Steve Kerr, Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic notes. “He’s frenetic out there and plays with great energy,” Kerr said. “He’s kind of all over the map. He has his moments where he makes plays where he gets out of control but also makes really athletic, powerful moves to the rim, with steals, and fast-break layups, dunks.” Bazemore joined the Warriors on a veteran’s minimum contract in November and will return to free agency this summer.

L.A. Notes: Davis, Vogel, Zubac, Ballmer

Anthony Davis missed two games this week because of Achilles tendinosis, but the Lakers star doesn’t expect it to be a long-term concern, writes Jovah Buha of The Athletic. After returning to the lineup with a 35-point performance Friday, Davis explained to reporters how the injury is affecting him.

“It felt great going into the game,” he said. “But as you play, I’m always using that Achilles tendon. It got sore towards the end from just constantly moving on it. But it felt great coming into the game, felt great throughout the game, but late game it was kind of bothering me a little bit. I felt like we had the game in hand when I was able to — and Coach felt that way — when I was able to sit down the last two and a half (minutes).”

Davis added that doctors told him the pain isn’t coming directly from the Achilles tendon, but from an adjacent body part in the same area of the leg. He said the quickest way to recover is through rest, but he doesn’t want to sit out a lot of games in a row.

“The doctors and training staff feel comfortable enough for me to go out there and perform as well,” Davis said. “So it’s something that’s gonna continue to get better. (I’m) constantly doing treatment on it throughout the day, throughout the night, and wearing stuff in my shoes to help out the pain level and wearing tape and all these things to make it feel better throughout the course of time, and basically, I’m very — I’m able to just go out there and play and not worry about it.”

There’s more from Los Angeles:

  • After trimming his rotation during the week, Lakers coach Frank Vogel expanded it to 10 players Friday with the return of Davis and Alex Caruso, Buha adds in the same story. Vogel called it “impossible decisions” to determine what to do with Wesley Matthews and Markieff Morris when the full team is healthy, noting that both of them “deserve to be in the rotation.”
  • The Clippers lost Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell, but their bench remains among the most productive in the league, according to Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. One of the new components is center Ivica Zubac, who was a starter last season. “I am just in a space where I want Zu to be great,” said reserve guard Lou Williams. “I want to push him, I want to challenge him to be the best player that he can be and at the same time, we can feed off each other’s success and continue to build.”
  • Seattle will be at the top of the list whenever the NBA decides to expand, Clippers owner Steve Ballmer said on a Clubhouse podcast.

Lakers Notes: Matthews, Vogel, LeBron, Schroder

Wesley Matthews helped the Lakers secure an overtime win over the Thunder Monday night in a rare high point of a frustrating season, writes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. After not playing at all for 10 days, Matthews got an opportunity due to any injury to Alex Caruso and responded with 16 points. His time with L.A. hasn’t gone the way he expected after signing as a free agent during the offseason, but he doesn’t regret the decision.

“No, it didn’t make me second-guess anything,” Matthews said. “It’s just a matter of time. … Since entering this league, nothing has gone according to what I would have dreamed of being an NBA player. … It was unfortunate, but at the same time, it’s your job to be professional. It’s your job to stay ready.”

At age 34, Matthews is adjusting to a new role after being a starter for most of his career, including 67 games with the Bucks last season. He said he appreciates coach Frank Vogel’s honest approach when he decided to trim the rotation.

“He knows the conversation isn’t going to be easy. I know the conversation isn’t going to be easy,” Matthews said. “But the conversation needs to take place just so that you can get the best out of somebody. … Conversations can be difficult. They need to be had and I didn’t love anything he had to say, but your job is to be professional. Your job is to play basketball and cheer on your teammates and be supportive and be a pro.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • LeBron James said it was “very inspiring” to watch Tom Brady win a seventh Super Bowl at age 43, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. James, who is sometimes compared to Brady for their ability to remain productive past normal retirement age, has no time frame in mind for ending his career. “I don’t know how long I’m going to play the game,” James said. “I don’t know how much more I’ll be able to give to the game. The way I feel right now, we’ll see what happens. But I have no timetable on it. I have no year of, ‘OK, do I want to play until 30-this or 40-that?’ The game will let me know when it’s time, and we’ll figure it out then.”
  • Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times examines the reasons for James’ longevity and finds it’s a combination of three factors — continuing to improve his skills, remaining committed to health, and fitness and mastering the mental part of the game.
  • Dennis Schroder knew he had to take on a complementary role to James and Anthony Davis when he was traded to the Lakers, Turner writes in a separate story. Schroder adapted right away and has become the third-leading scorer on the team at 14.4 PPG. “I play with the two best players in the world,” he said. “So, for me, I try to adjust to this group, to them, it’s big time. I think I just got to be more aggressive taking the right shots and putting them in good position to score and play a lot faster.”

Pacific Notes: Curry, Leonard, Matthews, Haliburton

Stephen Curry could be in contention for a third MVP award if he keeps playing the way he has this week. After scoring 62 points last Sunday, Curry sparked the Warriors to a shocking comeback win over the Clippers Friday night. He hit nine 3-pointers, had 11 assists and went 13-for-24 from the field in the 38-point performance, leaving some teammates in awe, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

“He’s making shots that you be like, ‘Whoa!'” Andrew Wiggins said. “There’s not a lot of shots that he can’t make. As soon as he steps over half, he’s a threat, so he causes a lot of attention. So when he gets rolling, you just sit back and watch and let him roll.”

Curry continues to add to his historically great numbers, Youngmisuk notes. Among the 78 players in NBA history with at least 100 30-point games, Curry has a .783 winning percentage, which ranks third all-time behind Larry Bird and Hal Greer.

“There’s not too much you have to say beyond it’s just who Steph is,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s been doing this for many, many years and one of the reasons he’s a two-time MVP and he’s a phenomenal basketball player. And usually with Steph when he has a tough game he bounces back [in] the next one. That’s part of his character, part of his competitiveness.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Clippers star Kawhi Leonard called for the team to change its mindset after letting that game against Golden State slip away, according to Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. L.A. was outscored 64-40 in the second half while taking just 12 shots in the paint. “I don’t feel like we took any, pretty much, good shots in that fourth quarter,” Leonard said. “Some of us didn’t know the play we were running but, yeah, we have to know what we’re running, execute it and then live with the make or misses.”
  • The Lakers‘ deep lineup creates a challenge for coach Frank Vogel, who has to find minutes for a variety of players, notes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Wesley Matthews, who is being used as a reserve for the first time in nearly a decade, said Vogel has made that transition easier. “When you know when you’re coming in, when you’re coming out, you can start usually preparing yourself and you can get ready and then you can start watching the game a little bit differently,” Matthews said. “He’s a great communicator so far with me and that really helps my curve here.”
  • Kings rookie Tyrese Haliburton made his first career start Saturday with Richaun Holmes sidelined, tweets James Ham of NBC Sports. Coach Luke Walton and his staff have discussed using Haliburton as a starter, but haven’t committed to making the move permanent.

California Notes: Kawhi, Matthews, Batum, Wiggins

Clippers All-Star wing Kawhi Leonard is making a concerted effort to be a more vocal leader this season, as Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register details. His new teammate Serge Ibaka, who won a title with Leonard in 2019 when both were with the Raptors, encouraged Leonard to do this when he arrived to LA this season.

“Leaders need not only to come on the court and score 30 points. You have to show the team, your teammates, like you’re willing to give everything for them,” Ibaka said of the All-NBA Clippers forward. “And so far, he’s been doing a great job of that. He’s been communicating with everybody… this is something really new I see from Kawhi.”

There’s more out of California:

  • New Lakers wing Wesley Matthews, a longtime starter in the NBA, is adjusting to his new role coming off the bench, according to Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register. “We don’t worry about Wes,” head coach Frank Vogel said. “He’s a knockdown shooter and a great defender. Just excited that he’s in a Lakers uniform and what kind of things he’s gonna give us throughout the year.”
  • With newly-extended Clippers forward Marcus Morris out of commission due to a sore right knee, veteran offseason addition Nicolas Batum has comfortably slid into his starting power forward role, per Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register. Batum is averaging 27.5 MPG, 6.8 PPG, 6.8 RPG and 3.5 APG for Los Angeles.
  • Warriors swingman Andrew Wiggins has vastly improved his pick-and-roll output this season, writes Zach Harper of The Athletic. He is producing 116.7 points per 100 possessions as a pick-and-roll scorer thus far in 2020/21.

Lakers Sign Wesley Matthews To One-Year Contract

NOVEMBER 22: The Lakers have officially announced their deal with Matthews, according to Bill Oram of The Athletic (Twitter link).


NOVEMBER 20: Free agent swingman Wesley Matthews intends to sign a contract with the Lakers, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Matthews turned down a player option with Milwaukee to reach free agency this week.

The Lakers’ deal with Matthews will be a one-year pact worth $3.6MM, says Charania (via Twitter). It sounds like the club will use its bi-annual exception – which has an exact value of $3,623,000 – to lock up the 34-year-old.

Although Matthews’ prime years are behind him, he remains a reliable three-and-D option, having started all 67 games he appeared in for the NBA-best Bucks last season. He recorded 7.4 PPG, 2.5 RPG, and 1.4 APG with a .364 3PT% in 24.4 minutes per contest, and has never made fewer than 36.0% of his threes in a single season since entering the league.

The Lakers were in need of a wing who could shoot, with Danny Green having been traded away and Avery Bradley departing in free agency. Matthews can fill that role without breaking the bank.

The Lakers will be hard-capped at $138.93MM this season as a result of using the bi-annual exception.

Wesley Matthews To Decline Player Option

Bucks swingman Wesley Matthews plans to decline his $2.7MM player option for the 2020/21 season and enter unrestricted free agency, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Matthews averaged 7.4 points, 2.5 rebounds and 24.4 minutes per game with Milwaukee last season, seeing an average of 24.4 minutes per contest. He’s expected to be one of the more sought-after three-and-D wings on the open market, with multiple contenders likely to express interest. As such, it makes sense for him to turn down an option worth the veteran’s minimum.

Among the teams with an early interest in the 34-year-old is the Lakers, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times (Twitter link). Los Angeles is expected to trade Danny Green as part of the team’s deal to acquire Dennis Schroder from Oklahoma City and reportedly view Matthews as a potential replacement for Green next season.

Matthews has played 11 NBA seasons in his career, making past stops with Utah, Portland, Dallas, New York, Indiana and Milwaukee. He went undrafted back in 2009 after spending four seasons at Marquette.

Lakers Expected To Pursue Wesley Matthews

The Lakers are interested in signing shooting guard Wesley Matthews to replace Danny Green, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.

Matthews holds a $2.69MM player option on his contract but he’s expected to decline it so that he can become an unrestricted free agent.

Green is headed to the Thunder in an agreed-upon deal that will send Dennis Schroder to Los Angeles. Matthews, 34, started 67 regular-season games for the Bucks last season and averaged 7.4 PPG, 2.5 RPG and 1.4 APG. Matthews also averaged 7.2 PPG in 10 postseason starts for Milwaukee.

The Bucks have reportedly made retaining Matthews a priority. Other playoff-caliber teams, such as the Heat, could also get in the mix.

Matthews’ value is mainly as a floor spacer. He’s a 38.1% career 3-point shooter, though his success rate dropped to 36.4% last season.

Central Notes: Pistons Draft, Bucks Moves, Bulls Draft

The Pistons can be reasonably certain about five prospects who won’t drop to them at the No. 7 overall pick, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. From the way the draft is shaping up, Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, LaMelo Ball, Obi Toppin and Deni Avdija — in no particular order — will be off the board. The player that Detroit drafts could be predicated by which player goes at the No. 6 pick, which the Hawks currently own. Although the Pistons are open to trading up or down, those deals are difficult to pull off for teams picking in the middle of the lottery, Langlois adds.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • While Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s decision on whether to sign an extension looms over the Bucks franchise, Milwaukee has several other issues to ponder this offseason and it seeks ways to advance deeper into the playoffs. The Athletic’s Danny Leroux takes a look at the team’s cap and roster situation and concludes that the front office will be seeking depth players and young talent in free agency and potential trades. Retaining Wesley Matthews, who is likely to decline his $2.69MM option, is another priority, Leroux adds.
  • Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Artūras Karnišovas should try his best to trade down in the draft, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago opines. With Edwards, Wiseman and Ball likely to go in the first three picks, the Bulls are in a pivotal position at No. 4. If another team covets a player at that spot, they could pick up another asset or two in a trade. With the likelihood of having 12 guaranteed contracts along with decisions to make on three restricted free agents, Chicago also has roster issues to consider, Johnson adds.
  • Toppin appears to be high on the Cavaliers’ draft board. Get the details here.

And-Ones: Option Decisions, Avdija, Draft, Onuaku

With the NBA season over and 2020’s free agent period approaching (eventually), John Hollinger of The Athletic takes a look at all 43 team and player option decisions that must be made this fall, evaluating which options are likely to be exercised and which will be turned down.

While Anthony Davis and Jerami Grant are viewed as the only locks to decline their respective player options this offseason, Hollinger identifies seven more players who he thinks will opt for free agency: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, Wesley Matthews, Austin Rivers, Willie Cauley-Stein, and James Ennis.

With the exception of Caldwell-Pope, McGee, and Cauley-Stein – who is technically earning slightly above the minimum – those players are all on minimum-salary deals, so it won’t be a surprise if they explore the open market, even if they have to settle for another minimum contract. However, KCP’s case should be interesting — his $8.49MM option for 2020/21 is close to mid-level territory, but he could still probably do better after an impressive showing in the NBA Finals.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Bobby Marks take a look at next steps for the NBA, including what next season’s schedule might look like and when roster moves might resume. While there’s currently a freeze on transactions, team executives confirmed to ESPN that the moratorium will be lifted and trades will be permitted before the draft on November 18.
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer and Jeremy Woo of SI.com have each published updated versions of their mock drafts for 2020. Both draft experts have Anthony Edwards going No. 1, but O’Connor has a surprise pick at No. 2, penciling in Deni Avdija. League executives expect Avdija to “enter the mainstream conversation as a top-three pick” in the coming weeks, according to O’Connor.
  • Former NBA big man Chinanu Onuaku has reached an agreement to sign with Croatian team KK Zadar, a source tells Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Onuaku was the 37th overall pick in the 2016 draft, but didn’t see much action in two seasons with Houston, appearing in just six total games before being traded and waived.