The Toronto Raptors may be looking to bolster their squad with a free-agent addition. Is Wesley Matthews the perfect buyout option for the Raptors?
As trade season draws to a close and the All-Star break commences, the GM’s of the NBA don’t rest on their laurels, none more so than Masai Ujiri of the Toronto Raptors. Following the trade season is the much less anticipated, but equally important, buyout period.
An NBA contract can be bought out at any point during the season, the L.A. Lakers signed free-agent Tyson Chandler to a one-year deal after his buyout from the Phoenix Suns earlier on in the season. However, teams with an aim towards shedding cap and looking ahead to the draft tend to buy out the veterans that they couldn’t move before the deadline, usually, those veterans can provide an impact for playoff teams and would-be title contenders. A prime example, Marco Belinelli signing for the Philadelphia 76ers last season. Belinelli was the perfect remedy for a Sixers team in need of shooting and came up in some big moments when they needed him most.
Thus, once more, the buyout period is officially here. Teams looking to move on from players have until March 1 to waive them, before they’re picked up in the open market. One such target is Wesley Matthews, now of the New York Knicks, following the blockbuster trade involving Kristaps Porzingis. Matthews is in the final year of his contract and is a potential buyout candidate for many teams.
But what can he bring to the Toronto Raptors?
One of the most valuable commodities in today’s NBA, the art of the three-point shot. Something Wesley Matthews is accustomed too and something the Toronto Raptors are in dire need of.
The Raptors rank in the bottom ten for three-point percentage, despite ranking 11th for attempts per game. Something has to give for Toronto, as their lack of three-point prowess has hurt them multiple times this season, and heading into the playoffs, you don’t want your shot to go missing. Think the Houston Rockets missing 27 straight three-pointers against the Golden State Warriors last season.
Wes Matthews gives the Raptors another competent shooter to roll out in significant situations, and as a career 36-percent shooter from three, there’s definitely worse players to have in that spot.
What is a three-and-D defense if you don’t have the defense? Luckily, Wes Matthews is still a sturdy perimeter defender that will get the job done.
Matthews is now 32 and is getting up there in age, his defense has dipped a bit this season as a starter for the Mavericks, allowing 39-percent from three. It’s likely that Matthews would often be matched up against some of the best three-point shooters in the league though, and joining a Raptors team with a plethora of lengthy wing defenders means that often wouldn’t be the case.
Adding another quality wing defender would do a world of good for the Raptors, who already rank sixth in opponent three-point percentage. Rolling Matthews out with a bench unit that already possesses the likes of Norman Powell, Delon Wright, and OG Anunoby could be a valuable commodity once the playoff season sets in.
Another Bench Option
That brings us to our next point, the Raptors bench sucks. A far cry from the bench unit of last season, the Raptors second unit has been a big disappointment so far this season, offensively and defensively.
The promotion for Pascal Siakam to the starting power forward slot has taken a lot of playmaking and scoring out of the bench minutes, and with the recent shooting woes of C.J. Miles (granted C.J. seems to have found his touch but Nurse has left him out of the rotation altogether, baffling) the bench seems to be in need of a spark. Adding a veteran presence could steady a sinking ship and provide some much needed scoring a unit that averages just under 35 points a game, 19th in the NBA.
Whether the Raptors make a move for Wes Matthews remains to be seen, but his ability on the court could revitalize a stagnant unit and then some.