Matthews expected to become a Blazer, agent says
Wesley Matthews is expected to soon become a Portland Trail Blazer.
Lance Young, Matthews’ agent, said Wednesday evening Utah will not match the restricted free-agent contract offer made to the second-year guard last Saturday by the Blazers.
The Jazz have until next Monday to match the deal, which is worth $34 million for five years, including a loaded up-front payment of $9.2 million.
However, Utah’s recent trade for forward Al Jefferson and signing of guard Raja Bell make it highly unlikely the Jazz will retain Matthews.
Asked Wednesday about Matthews’ future with Utah, Young replied via text message that his client would soon be the newest addition to Rip City.
Chad Buchanan, Portland director of college scouting, acknowledged Wednesday that he is hopeful Young is correct.
However, Buchanan said the Blazers could not comment until the matter becomes official.
Matthews was Portland’s No. 1 option heading into free agency. The Blazers feel that his youth, scrappiness and overall potential are keys for a team that is attempting to take the next step in its evolution.
If Matthews becomes a Blazer, he will likely alternate backing up starting shooting guard Brandon Roy and small forward Nicolas Batum.
The Blazers believe that Matthews, an undrafted guard out of Marquette, will improve the team’s outside shooting. In addition, Portland feels that Matthews will strengthening the squad’s ability to apply lock-down defense against top-tier wing players.
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Matthews averaged 9.4 points while shooting 48.3 percent from the field during his rookie season with the Jazz. He started 48 regular-season games and played in all 82. Matthews then excelled in the playoffs, starting all 10 of Utah’s contests, averaging 13.2 points and 4.4 rebounds.
The Blazers have a secondary plan if Utah matches the offer, though, and Portland was expected to soon meet with another free agent in Las Vegas.
But if Matthews becomes a Blazer as expected, the team will likely decline the option to use its $2 million bi-annual exception. The main reasons being that Matthews will command all of Portland’s $5.7 million mid-level exception, while the organization’s 15th and final roster spot will likely go to either Patty Mills or Armon Johnson.
Portland offered a similar loaded deal to Utah forward Paul Millsap last summer — a “toxic” four-year contract worth $32 million. The Jazz matched the offer, though.