In an offseason filled with big decisions for the Portland Trail Blazers, one of them will be the contract they give Wesley Matthews. To answer his rather high demands, they’re hoping Arron Afflalo opts out of the one year he has left on his deal.
Afflalo has a $7.9 million player option for next season. Can he get more on the open market? Maybe, at least he seems to think so, despite a very poor showing with the Blazers. Afflalo came in via trade to help the Blazers off the bench with some offense but ended up starting at shooting guard, averaging only 10.6 points on 41.4% from the field, and playing very poorly in the playoffs.
Matthews was having a very good season until an injury with about a month left in the season. He was averaging 15.9 points per game and doing a very good job on defense, establishing himself as another perimeter stopper for the team while being the third scoring option on the Blazers’ potent offense behind Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
Despite an injury that could very well cause a decline in his ability, Matthews is looking for a deal that pays him around $15 million a season. It does mean doubling his salary, but once the salary cap soars from $67 million to $89 million in 2016 (unless we have a lockout that prevents it from happening), it won’t be that much anymore.
Matthews, unlike Aldridge, has said more than once how much he loves playing in Portland, and gets a strong feedback from the very vocal and almost rabid Oregon fan base. With Aldridge potentially leaving to one of the Texas teams (Dallas or San Antonio) while there’s also giving Lillard a max extension, having to deal with Matthews contract is almost like bone in the throat of the Blazers management. It’ll also be a huge blow to lose him in a summer that might destroy everything they’ve been building towards for the last three or four years.
Matthews tore his achilles tendon last season, not an easy injury to get over. Kobe Bryant had it happen to him in 2013 much later in the season and came back pretty early in the next one, but other injuries and tanking happened and he was shut down after only six games. Matthews could be back in time for the new season to begin, but it might take him some time to get back to his old self.