The Los Angeles Lakers signing Wesley Matthews to a one-year, $3.6 million contract did not have the same shock value as some of the team’s other bold moves during the offseason.
However, with the loss of Danny Green in the Dennis Schroder trade, it may have been one of the most important. When the Lakers traded Green, Matthews was an obvious target to replace him.
His ability to catch and shoot on 3-pointers as well as guard wings on the defense fit seamlessly with the team’s game plan. The only question was what type of contract he would command.
L.A. was able to get Matthews to agree to a deal within the first hour of free agency, giving him their full bi-annual exception. When discussing what led to the decision to pick the Lakers, Matthews had a variety of reasons, the most prominent of which was the team’s pursuit of him.
“Obviously I’m very grateful and humbled to be a part of the Lakers organization,” Matthews said. “It’s such a tremendous organization, obviously the history speaks for itself, the legacies of countless players, coaches, personnel, staff. The city speaks for itself.
“Their desire for me. In any field, whether it’s sports or anything, you want to be wanted. It’s a pretty simple thing. You want to be wanted and you want to be wanted by the best. I had the tremendous opportunity to play for my hometown state, the Milwaukee Bucks, with a tremendous coaching staff and group of guys.
“I’m very proud of the time that I spent there even though it was brief. It’s also being wanted by the defending champions, along with the family ties and just the history of the Lakers organization, add that to the fit and style of play, I’m tremendously excited about the opportunity.”
While nothing has been decided in terms of lineups, Matthews has a good shot to start for the defending champions, an opportunity that would be very difficult to pass up. Matthews’ father also played with the Lakers from 1986-88, winning two NBA championships.
Matthews bringing defense, off-ball shooting to Lakers
When asked if the Lakers style of play fits his skillset, Matthews went into detail on how he can help the team win in 2020-21. “I don’t think they would’ve came after me if that wasn’t the case,” he began.
“Obviously I like to pride myself on the defensive side of the ball and shooting 3s is right up my avenue. I look forward to not only just defending and shooting 3s, but playing basketball.
“Watching the Lakers from a distance and obviously competing against them, there’s a lot of ball movement, a lot of player movement, a lot of random situations and stuff that I feel I really excel in and an underrated part of my game is playing off the ball.
“Since college I haven’t been the go-to guy, so I’ve always had to find ways to play without the basketball. I’ve done that my whole life, so that isn’t anything new to me and that’s something that I feel I can provide with this team.”
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