Welcome to our annual Lakers season in review series, where we’ll be taking a look back at every player on the team’s roster this season, evaluating their play, and deciding if they should be a part of the organization’s future. Today, we take a closer look at Wesley Matthews.
How did he play?
When the Lakers signed Wesley Matthews to a one-year contract for the bi-annual exception, there was this expectation that he’d be a like-for-like Danny Green replacement, if not an upgrade over the now-Philadelphia 76ers guard. While he didn’t live up to those expectations, he had nights where it was clear why people had them in the first place.
Matthews, 34, isn’t as agile as he once was, but he showed he still knows how to stay in front of his man and be a disruptor on the defensive end. That was especially important last season because his 3-point shot wasn’t as reliable as it’s been in year’s past.
Through 58 games, Matthews shot a career-low 33.5% from behind the arc on 3.4 attempts per game. In the postseason, he shot a lowly 28% from 3-point range.
What is his contract situation moving forward?
Matthews will be an unrestricted free agent and the Lakers will have his non-bird rights, which means they can re-sign him for up to 120% of his previous salary. It’s unlikely that he’ll get to that number after his disappointing first season, but given the league-wide demand for 3-and-D wing players, it wouldn’t be completely shocking if he did.
Should he be back?
Absolutely. As disappointing as Matthews was last season, he wasn’t a burden to have on the team by any stretch of the imagination. On and off the court, he tried to play his role to the best of his abilities, and that made it easy to root for him.
And beyond the intangibles, there aren’t many true 3-and-D players like Matthews that are expected to be available for cheap this summer. Maybe there’s a reason for that, but there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic that his second season in Los Angeles will be better than his first.
So if Matthews wants to come back — and it sounds like he does — the Lakers should welcome his return with open arms.