Multiple outlets are reporting that Utah Jazz G/F Wesley Matthews has signed an offer sheet with the Portland Trail Blazers, a deal which the Jazz will have 7 days to match the offer, which is reportedly 5 years, $25 million dollars. This will be the 2nd straight year that the Blazers offer a Jazz restricted free agent a contract, when in 2009 they offered Paul Millsap a similar deal, at 5 years, $42 million dollars. But let's get straight to Matthews, what does he bring to the Blazers next season?
Well, Matthews definitely should be thought of as a hard worker who is more talented then he is given credit for, when he made the Jazz roster as an undrafted free agent. He is what you'd expect from a Shooting Guard: he can shoot the basketball, he is very consistent, and a good team player. If he does end up in Portland, he would likely back up Brandon Roy and be one of the top bench players.
Matthews' contract means that the Blazers will use up most of their Mid-Level Exception in signing Matthews, leaving little room to sign other free agents besides veteran minimum contracts. However, this move may also be in the likeness of what they did with Millsap: cash-strap the the division rival Jazz with a long-term deal for a backup player. Granted, Millsap is the expected starter with Carlos Boozer gone, but Matthews splits time at SG with C.J. Miles and while the deal would not be toxic to the Jazz cap, it would still hurt them long term. And it wouldn't be surprising if the Jazz decided to match the offer. It would be great for the Blazers, because it means that while Matthews is talented, it's questionable if he deserves most of the MLE. This would not only hurt the Jazz cap, but also allow the Blazers to get out of the deal and pursue a player who would be considered more deserving of the MLE, like Al Harrington, Mike Miller, etc.
However, if the Jazz opt not to match and Matthews becomes a Blazer, he will fit right in with the young Portland team and could help Brandon Roy and take 20-25 minutes a game and give Roy a breather. And, although unproven, it's not unreasonable to say that Matthews couldn't play Point Guard alongside Roy, either. In any case, Matthews gives the Blazers flexibility, in that they could trade disgruntled 2-guard Rudy Fernandez and get even more value at different spots. Hmmm....Fernandez to the Knicks for Wilson Chandler? Not unreasonable.....
The only thing I want to know is who's making these decisions with no GM in place formally. But Matthews is a solid pickup, nonetheless.
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