Milwaukee Bucks shooting guard Wesley Matthews has decline his player option for the 2020-2021 season. He was due to make $2.7 million had he opted in. In the 2019-2020 season, Matthews averaged 7.4 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.4 assists on shooting averages of 39.6/36.4/76.5.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 16, 2020
What Does This Mean for the Bucks?
The Bucks have a pretty high payroll projected for the 2020-2021 season, so $2.7 million gives them a little bit more cap space. However, it does not really give them the room to nab a big-name free agent.
Re: Wes Matthews not opting in
💰The max MIL could offer is $5.7M w/o triggering the hard cap
💸MIL has $128.5M in salary (about $10M below the HC and $4.1M below the tax)-
🏀They have a 11/20 decision on the $7M non-guaranteed contract of Ersan Ilyasova
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) November 16, 2020
Matthews was (and is) a great defensive player, as is evident here:
Love watching Wes Matthews IV work on defense. Fights over screen and still gets back in front of Hardaway to make things difficult… pic.twitter.com/xEF9K2ezRF
— Elder Marques Johnson (@olskool888) December 17, 2019
Losing Matthews is a blow to the Bucks on the defensive front. They do not lose much in offense as he rarely had a significant role in Bud’s offensive scheme. More significantly, though, is that they do not have much depth at guard. Donte DiVincenzo, who beside George Hill is the Bucks’ best reserve guard, has commonly been discussed as a possible trade asset. If Matthews does not resign with the Bucks for a longer deal, DiVincenzo most likely will not be included in any trades. This could greatly affect the quality of player for whom the Bucks could trade.
Why Did Matthews Decline the Option?
There are two possible reasons for Wes Matthews’ decision floating around social media. The first is that he is upset over his usage in Coach Bud’s system, particularly in the playoffs. Infamously (at least in Milwaukee), Matthews found himself on the bench late in games during the Heat series while Jimmy Butler dominated the Bucks’ defense.
You know what might have helped convince Wes Matthews to stay in Milwaukee? Having him on the damn floor in crunch time of playoff games while the guy he did an amazing job defending freaking torched the Bucks. That might’ve been a good idea for multiple reasons.
— TiTi Windisch (@TiWindisch) November 15, 2020
The second, which was referenced above, is that Matthews may want a longer contract on which to finish his career. This could be with the Bucks, or with another team. This deal would likely be another two-year contract in which the first year is guaranteed and the second year is a player option.
What’s Next for Wes?
As mentioned, Matthews could very well resign with the Bucks and finish his career in Milwaukee. However, it sounds like there is another team that is very interested in the defensive-minded veteran:
Wesley Matthews has declined his player option with the Bucks to become a free agent. The Lakers have expressed interest in signing him. Per @ShamsCharania
— NBA Retweet (@RTNBA) November 16, 2020
Obviously, the idea of playing for the Lakers would be an attractive proposition for Wes Matthews. He would be playing for the reigning Champions who are favored to win it all again next year. There may be other teams interested, but the Lakers are the team that seem to be making the most noise.
Make sure to check in here for more developments throughout the week, including our draft coverage and analysis of any trades and free agent signings.