Wesley Matthews

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.

Batum, DeRozan Among Players With Earlier Option Decision Deadlines

Most veterans who have player options in their contracts for the 2020/21 season will have an October 17 deadline to either exercise or decline that option. That Saturday represents the second-last day of the 2019/20 league year under the NBA’s new calendar, meaning it would coincide in a normal year with June 29, the usual player option decision deadline.

However, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, some of the players who have to make option decisions for 2020/21 have slightly earlier deadlines. For instance, if the Spurs don’t make the postseason, DeMar DeRozan will be required to make his decision within seven days of the team’s last game, per Marks.

The full list of player options for ’20/21 can be found on our free agents page, but here are the options which must be exercised or declined before October 17, according to Marks:

The rest of this season’s player option decisions must be made by October 17, a deadline that applies to nearly every team option for 2020/21 as well. The only team options with earlier decision dates are minimum-salary ones for Deonte Burton (Thunder) and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (Pistons), which are due by October 15, per Marks.

Giannis Played Role In Recruiting Matthews, Korver

Entering the 2019 offseason, Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo hadn’t gotten involved much in free agent recruitment, preferring to leave roster moves up to the front office. However, when he found out that Milwaukee was signing-and-trading Malcolm Brogdon to Indiana last summer, he felt as if it was time for him to get involved, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic.

“I don’t like doing that stuff,” Antetokounmpo said. “I don’t get an extra paycheck for doing (GM) Jon (Horst)’s job or Coach (Mike Budenholzer)’s job or whoever’s job it is. … If you asked me one year ago, two years ago, I’d say, ‘Coach, just take care of it.’ … (But) it comes to a point that I’m like, ‘OK. Malcolm’s about to leave.’ And at the time, Wesley Matthews and Kyle Korver were the guys I felt like could help us win.”

Antetokounmpo, who is represented by the same agency as Matthews (Octagon), reached out to the veteran swingman first, pitching him on the idea of competing for a championship in Milwaukee. Matthews had received interest from other teams, but the call from the reigning MVP helped convince him to join the Bucks, as Nehm details.

“It meant a lot,” Matthews said. “Not even just as an athlete, but just as anyone who is working, the admiration of your peers is what holds the most weight. Not writers, not blogs, not media and all that kind of stuff. It’s the guys you’re going to compete with and against to have the respect for you that means the world.”

Meanwhile, Antetokounmpo touched base with Korver at a training facility in Santa Barbara. The 38-year-old sharpshooter invited Giannis to work out with him at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where the Bucks’ star made another recruitment pitch.

“We start the workout and I’m like, ‘OK. Kyle, look, this is how I can get you open shots,'” Antetokounmpo said. “‘We can run this. We can do this. I know Al Horford is your best friend. I know you’d love playing with Al Horford in Philly, but look, I can (get you shots). I can find you easier.’ He loved it.”

Both Matthews and Korver ultimately signed with the Bucks and they’ve been great fits so far. Matthews has been a regular starter in Milwaukee, averaging 7.5 PPG with a .370 3PT% in 58 games (24.6 MPG), while Korver has recorded 6.4 PPG with a .407 3PT% off the bench in 47 contests (16.6 MPG). They’ve helped push the Bucks to an NBA-best 52-9 record this season and Giannis is thrilled to have them both aboard, as Nehm writes.

“I love my teammates. … I’d die for them,” Antetokounmpo said. “That’s who I am and I hope they know that and I think they know that. This is the group that I want to (win a championship) with, and hopefully, we can get it done.”

Contract Details: Celtics, Matthews, T. Harris, Lyles, More

The Celtics stretched Guerschon Yabusele‘s $3MM+ cap hit for 2019/20 when they waived him last week in order to create a little extra room under the cap, tweets Jeff Siegel of Early Bird Rights. While that decision may seem curious, it helped allow Boston to complete a couple less glamorous signings.

For one, the Celtics’ new two-year deal with French center Vincent Poirier isn’t worth the minimum, but rather has a value of $4.65MM over two years, per Siegel (Twitter link). Poirier’s deal starts at around $2.27MM, which wouldn’t have been possible without cap space, since the team has already committed its full room exception to Enes Kanter.

Meanwhile, second-round pick Carsen Edwards also benefited from the Celtics’ leftover cap room. According to Siegel (Twitter link), the former Purdue standout will earn $1,228,026 in his rookie season, rather than the rookie minimum of $898,310. By using their cap room, the C’s were also able to lock up Edwards to a four-year contract.

Here are some details on a few more contracts that were recently made official:

  • Wesley Matthews‘ new minimum-salary contract with the Bucks includes a second-year player option, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • Tobias Harris has a trade bonus in his five-year contract with the Sixers, according to Siegel (Twitter link). That bonus will be worth either $5MM or 5% of the remaining money left on his contract (whichever is lesser). The bonus can’t exceed Harris’ maximum salary.
  • Trey Lyles‘ two-year, $11MM contract with the Spurs has a partial guarantee of just $1MM for the second year, tweets Siegel.
  • No. 42 overall pick Admiral Schofield got a three-year contract from the Wizards with the first two years guaranteed and a $300K guarantee on year three, tweets Siegel. According to Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link), Schofield’s deal starts at $1MM in his rookie season.
  • The three-year, minimum-salary contract for Raptors second-round pick Dewan Hernandez has a $500K partial guarantee on year one, and is non-guaranteed for years two and three, tweets Siegel.