Despite sustaining a brutal, season-ending Achilles injury on March 5th against the Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard Wesley Matthews still covets a massive payday in free agency.
According to Sam Amick of USA Today, Matthews not only expects to be ready for the start of training camp, but he scoff’s at the notion of taking a pay-cut due to his ailment.
According to a person with knowledge of Matthews’ situation, he is seeking a multi-year deal that pays approximately $15 million annually. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of such discussions.
Matthews has already returned to basketball activities, and he is expected to be fully healthy and ready to play at the start of the regular season. He is on track to be active once training camps begin in October, but is likely to ease his way into the preseason. Matthews, a strong defender who averaged a career-high 16.4 points per game two seasons ago and 15.9 points per game in the 2014-15, has been playing at an All-Star caliber level for quite some time now and is confident that he’ll return to that level next season.
Matthews was undoubtedly slated for a lucrative deal prior to rupturing his Achilles, but his formerly sunny free agent skies have seemingly been overtaken by clouds of doubt. Who would be willing to shell out $15 million on a player coming off of one of the most devastating injuries an athlete can endure? Which team is confident enough to invest in Matthews long-term backed by the belief that he can return to his near All-Star level in the future?
When healthy, Matthews is definitely worth $15 million a year. On the court, Matthews is a reliable 3-and-D wing whom not only understands his role, but is accepting of it. In addition to Matthews’ defensive and shooting prowess, he’s been applauded for his humility in the locker room, which illustrates why he’d be such a hot commodity on the free agent market.
Team’s won’t be thrilled with Matthews’ asking price, but the galvanization period could come later down the line if Matthews is able to regain peak form. I’d be surprised to see Matthews ready to lock-and-load by the start of training camp, but you can never count out a guy as tough, and confident as he is.