Coming off the final year of his massive 2016 payday courtesy of the Dallas Mavericks, Wesley Matthews will be among many in the free agent market this summer. He spent the final 23 games last season playing a prominent role for Indiana Pacers, who were struggling with some injury concerns at shooting guard. During that late season stint, Matthews started every game and put up averages of 10.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.1 3’s, and 0.9 steals per game.
The veteran may be turning 33 years old before the start of the 2019-20 season, but this isn’t expected to dissuade team’s interest this offseason. Matthews’ skillset as a classic 3 and D perimeter player should earn him the consideration of many teams around the league, especially considering the significant amount of cap space available this summer and the number of teams ready to spend and contend.
With free agency just days away, here are three excellent scenarios for Wesley Matthews.
3. Los Angeles Lakers
Few teams are off to as hot of a start this offseason as the Lakers have been. After agreeing to terms with New Orleans on a trade that would bring Anthony Davis to the West Coast, the latest reporting by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is that Los Angeles will have a full max slot at their disposal to chase after a third big name.
If Wesley Matthews values winning and wants to maximize his chance to win a ring, this could be the best match for him. His shooting and floor spacing would certainly be needed, and it is no secret that LeBron James prefers playing alongside proven veteran players. There is even a possibility that he could end up the starting shooting guard for much of the season.
The Lakers have many options for acquiring another star, and if they do, there wouldn’t be much money left for Matthews. There’s a chance he could sign a deal that would grant him some of the team’s mid-level exception, but he would more likely be left signing a vet-minimum deal. If the prospect of winning outweighs the money, of which Matthews has made just over $97 million through 10 seasons, then this could be the place for him.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City may not be as glamorous as Los Angeles, but if they show interest in Wesley Matthews, it is a location he should seriously consider. Unfortunately for the Thunder, who have experienced three consecutive first round exits, they are pretty locked into their current roster financially. This could work in Matthews’ favor, though.
With few options elsewhere, Wesley Matthews could quite possible garner both a more substantial contract (OKC’s taxpayer MLE stands at just above $5.7 million) and a more surefire path to playing in a starting lineup. The only competition for Matthews in the rotation would be Andre Roberson, who is still rehabbing from injury, and Terrence Ferguson, who is going into this third NBA season and started most of last season out of necessity.
The shooting Matthews could bring would be exactly what Oklahoma City has needed for some time, and he would fit in well among an already elite defensive team.
1. Indiana Pacers
A return to the team he finished the 2018-19 season on wouldn’t be crazy and could actually be the best move for Wesley Matthews. The soonest return that has been mentioned for Victor Oladipo is December or January in the upcoming season, leaving a decent window of time open with the Pacers needing a starting shooting guard. Indiana knows they can trust in Matthews and that he is a solid fit with their team.
The Pacers are one of the few contending teams with meaningful cap space, as well. With the ability to clear over $32 million in cap space this summer, they have serious spending power. However, they don’t appear to be intrigued by signing a star- a good sign for Matthews’ hopes of coming back on a deal that would give him a little more than just leftover mid-level exception money.