During his exit interview following the team’s first-round exit, Wesley Matthews could not have been more clear about his intentions in free agency, repeatedly stating that he wanted the Lakers to “run it back.”
Nearly half a year and countless tweets from Lakers fans wondering what the hell happened to him later, it has been confirmed that Matthews is not getting his wish. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Matthews is returning to the Bucks after just one season in purple and gold.
Free agent Wesley Matthews plans to sign a deal with the Bucks, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. The 12-year veteran, who spent last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, is set to return to Milwaukee.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 3, 2021
Given the long delay, this is not surprising, but that’s one possible wing reinforcement at the trade deadline off the table. And while bringing back Matthews for cheap would have been a fine move, it’s not to hard to see why the Lakers may have passed.
The 34-year-old didn’t play up to his usual standards during his lone season on the team, shooting a career-worst 35.3% from three while averaging 4.8 points per game (also a career-low). The playoffs weren’t much better, with Matthews shooting 28% from deep, his worst postseason percentage ever, per Basketball-Reference.
The Lakers could have used another shooter and wing-sized player, but clearly decided in the end that they had better options they preferred to gamble on than a return to form from the 12-year veteran, even with their limited financial flexibility they’ve had to use to fill out their roster with mostly veteran’s minimum players.
On a human level, it’s a shame we won’t get to see if Matthews — who clearly burned for a ring — will get to bounce back in Los Angeles, but the team not wanting to bet on him doing so is understandable as well. Only time will tell if they made the right decision, but for now it’s hard to judge their choice too strongly one way or the other. Especially because, given how long it took, they clearly decided that whatever they do to add to this roster as the season goes along, it wasn’t going to be Matthews, who they’ve had literally months to sign.
Best of luck in Milwaukee, Wes. Hope you get your ring eventually.