It did not take long for the Los Angeles Lakers to sign Wesley Matthews.
NBA free agency is in full swing with big trades and signings alike. Though COVID-19 has pushed the draft and free agency to late November, little has changed in nature about the process. That goes for the Los Angeles Lakers front office, too.
Within the first hour of free agency, the Lakers and veteran guard Wesley Matthews agreed to a one-year deal worth $3.6 million. The decision comes amid recent changes (and rumored changes) on the Milwaukee Bucks front. Matthews was a pivotal player for the Bucks, starting in all 67 of his appearances.
Matthews is a big signing for the Lakers, who had identity issues with their backcourt throughout this past season and in the bubble. With Avery Bradley opting out of the bubble, the Lakers were primarily forced to look to guards Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to man the wing.
The two had their fair share of struggles, especially Green. But Green has since been dealt to Oklahoma City, and KCP has been on the fence about resigning with the 2020 NBA champions.
Though Laker fans would love to return Bradley, it’s a toss-up at this point. Amid uncertainty, Matthews is the most solid move the Lakers could have made to open up free agency. The Lakers’ biggest problems stemmed from their inconsistent guards. Matthews is a model for consistency.
Matthews was part of a bigger picture, and with less creativity on last year’s Bucks, he had less opportunity to score than ever before. Through his near 25 minutes per game, Matthews averaged 7.4 points, shooting a fairly efficient 36.4% from deep on 4.4 attempts per game.
If Laker fans are worried about his fit and level of play being able to replace that of Danny Green, they shouldn’t think too hard. Matthews is a seamless plug offensively and happens to offer just as much on the other of the floor as Green, if not more.
The Bucks posted a defensive rating of 98.3 with Matthews on the floor last season. His individual defensive rating of 98.3 was only second on the Bucks to Giannis Antentokounmpo, last season’s Defensive Player of the Year.
The two-way ability is there, and now maybe the chance for the 34-year-old to win. He’s only getting older, which is why the Los Angeles Lakers likely brought him in on a one-year deal. The bottom line is Matthews knows winning basketball and can fit right in.
His Bucks squad held the best regular-season record in the league last season before falling to the eventual Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat in the second round of the playoffs.
Matthews can certainly be a starter on this team. His signing gives the Lakers a starting-caliber guard/wing while all of theirs are on the fence. Assuming KCP returns, the two can play side by side.
If Bradley also returns, it would then be up to the Lakers to decide who fills which spot. Only time will tell who comes and goes and for however much money, but as funny as it sounds for the Lakers, money is in fact an issue.