Assessing Wes Matthews

I’m not sure what to make of Wes Matthews. My initial reaction to the 5 year/$33 million offer sheet, with a front-loaded $9.2 million due in the first year, was that it was a little bit ridiculous. And it’s obviously a heck of a pay rise from the $457,588 he made in his first season. When I ranked the West, I said that Utah were right to let Matthews walk, while stating that Portland overpaid for someone who’ll ultimately be a back-up. However, Wes Matthews can definitely play, averaging 9.4 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game with a PER of 12.3, while starting in 48 of a possible 92 NBA contests (contrary to this article stating that Matthews ‘never started’).

So is he overpaid? There are plenty of guys that have gotten noticed due to being on playoff teams, and turned that TV exposure into nice mid-level deals that make them ‘overpaid’ too. Here are some examples:

Jason Kapono – followed the 2006 championship run with Miami with a solid 2006-7 NBA campaign, posting 10.9 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists with a PER of 13.8. That summer, he cashed in the Toronto Raptors offering him a 4 year/$24 million deal. Since he got his deal, however, his stats have steadily declined, and in 2009 the Raptors traded him to the 76ers. Since he got his deal he’s averaged 7 points, 1.2 rebounds and 0.9 assists with a PER of 9.4, not exactly the sort of numbers he was expected to produce. Now all Philly have is an overpaid shooter who’s not exactly shooting well.

James Posey – provided the 2007-8 NBA championship Celtics with hard-nosed defence and clutch shooting, and was rewarded in the 2008 off-season with a 4 year/$25 million deal. After averaging 7.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists with a PER of 12 for the Celtics, he has dropped off in New Orleans, averaging 7 points, 4,6 rebounds and 1.3 assists with a PER of 9.8. Still has 2 years left on the deal that pays him until he’s 35, leaving him looking old and overpaid, and somewhat redundant playing for a team that won’t be contending for the championship.

Trevor Ariza – had a phenomenal season for the 2008-9 NBA champion Lakers, appearing in all 82 contests and averaging 8.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists with a PER of 15.5. All the clutch steals and timely threes during the Lakers playoff run got general managers interested, and he showed enough to receive the full mid-level deal of 5 years and $34 million from the Houston Rockets (who swapped him for Ron Artest after Artest signed for the mid-level in Los Angeles). Went from being a role-player to the focus of the offence, and during his debut season in Houston averaged 14.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists. His PER, however, dropped to 13.3. The Rockets acquired scorer Kevin Martin at the trade deadline and Aaron Brooks got much better as the season progressed and eventually won Most Improved Player. With those two in the backcourt, plus Yao Ming returning, Ariza’s workload will be reduced and he will return to being a role-player. The jury’s probably still out over whether or not he’s overpaid. However, I’ve seen less talented players (*cough* Amir Johnson *cough-cough*) get the mid-level so I still think it was a solid move by the Rockets.

Given his age, Wes Matthews may not be as overpaid as I initially thought. He may go either way, but here’s hoping he ends up performing more like Ariza and less like Kapono. Only time, and the seemingly forever-away upcoming NBA season, shall tell.

Bye for now.

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