The Los Angeles Lakers signed Wesley Matthews to a one-year, $3.6 million contract last offseason, and he was viewed as a replacement to the trusted but inconsistent Danny Green, who was traded away. Unfortunately, Matthews proved to be arguably more inconsistent than the veteran wing who departed.
The Lakers’ depth on the wings led to constant rotation shuffling from head coach Frank Vogel, and Matthews often found himself on the outside looking in. In the end, Matthews was still trusted for his hard-nosed, physical defense, but his offensive numbers took a nosedive.
Matthews averaged just 4.8 points on 35.3% shooting and 33.5% from 3-point range, all of which were career-lows for the 12-year veteran. Even with his 3-point accuracy struggling, however, Matthews never let that affect the rest of his game.
The veteran always gave maximum effort on the defensive side and could be trusted to make a difference on that end of the floor. This was on full display during the Lakers’ late-season victory over the Houston Rockets. Up by just two and needing a stop to seal the win, Matthews would force a steal on the Rockets’ Kelly Olynyk, ensuring the Lakers came out on top.
Matthews was put in a difficult position this season as his role constantly changed throughout the season, and he was just never able to find a consistent offensive rhythm. If Matthews was on, he would provide multiple threes and give the team a huge boost. But other times, he was non-existent on the offensive side of the ball, and it made it difficult to play him over the Lakers’ other wing options.
After not seeing the court for four consecutive games, Matthews made an immediate impact when given his next chance in a February game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Matthews would hit four of his five 3-pointers on his way to 16 points, helping the Lakers to a seven-point victory over the Thunder without Anthony Davis.
Matthews made it clear in the aftermath of the season that he wants to return to the Lakers and try and finish the job that the team started this season. The Lakers also seem open to bringing the core of the team back as they do believe they assembled a championship roster that fell apart due to injury.
If Matthews is willing to take a minimum contract or something close to it, then a return to the Purple and Gold is very possible as the team doesn’t have many avenues to improve their roster, and both sides would likely believe that Matthews’ poor shooting season was more of an anomaly than the new norm.
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