Milwaukee Bucks: What could Wesley Matthews make in free agency?

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 22 (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 22 (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

With the ongoing suspension of the 2019-20 season, Wesley Matthews‘ run with the Milwaukee Bucks may have come to a premature end, given that he could become a free agent again this offseason.

This wasn’t the way Wesley Matthews’ envisioned his Milwaukee Bucks homecoming coming to an end.

The 33-year-old’s high-profile return to Wisconsin coincided with this year’s Bucks squad crafting one of the best seasons in their franchise history and dabbled with achieving feats few teams have done throughout league history. And Matthews obviously played an integral role in solidifying the Bucks’ starting unit and experienced a level of success that he’s searched for throughout his 11-year NBA career.

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But, as hopes of the season continuing gradually dim, given the gravity of this worldwide pandemic, Matthews’ shot at glory and a storybook return to his home state has been put on hold.

As a result, Matthews must surely be giving some thought to his next move and determining the next step in his playing career, that is whenever things do return to normal.

The first such decision comes in the form of determining whether to pick up his player option for the 2020-21 season, which will affect whether he will return to free agency for the second straight year.

The Athletic’s John Hollinger recently predicted that Matthews could be a candidate to decline his roughly $2.7 million player option for next season and re-enter free agency waters with the hopes of fetching a slightly richer deal at either the bi-annual exception or the room Mid-Level exception.

And one can’t forget that Matthews was a player that was sought after for the veteran minimum at the outset of free agency last summer before he agreed to his current pact with the Bucks, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported at the time:

"“Matthews was a pursued player at the league’s veteran minimum among contenders, and returns to his Wisconsin roots to assume a role as part of the Bucks bench.”"

But it was the opportunity to return home and play for a Bucks team that had just reached the Eastern Conference Finals that overruled any offers from other suitors.

And judging by his comments in his appearance on the Posted Up podcast hosted by Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes, the appeal of playing at home has been beyond what Matthews could have envisioned, especially earlier in his career:

"“It’s amazing. It really has, it’s been amazing. I wouldn’t have appreciated it in my younger years. When we first met in Portland, I wouldn’t have appreciated being home. I wouldn’t have appreciated it like that. My family, friends, the supports of the fans, it’s unbelievable.”"

As far as financial factors go, the possibility of Matthews declining his player option in favor of getting a modest pay raise, as Hollinger predicted in his piece, certainly looks to have diminished, given how the salary cap and subsequent exceptions could be altered by the league’s revenue due to the stoppage.

That’s subject to plenty of discussions between the league and the players’ union as they continue to weigh steps about how to move forward with the stoppage and the season overall.

At present, the Bucks only have what is projected to be a $9.8 million Mid-Level exception and a $3.8 bi-annual exception, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks recently noted. But as Marks also outlined, the ever-present realities of entering the luxury tax will trigger the hard cap and further restrict the Bucks ability to improve their team next offseason.

And considering the wing position on the Bucks’ depth chart could undergo a major overhaul with the number of free agencies they face, even beyond Matthews weighing what to do with his player option.

Matthews has done a very adequate job in making life easier for others, especially on the defensive end as my colleague Adam McGee recently detailed. While his shooting has been streaky throughout the season, he’s done exactly what has been asked of him in terms of being able to space the floor for the Bucks’ cornerstone pieces.

Next. Khris Middleton is one of the NBA’s most well-rounded players. dark

Of course, there’s one big decision that hangs over the Bucks’ offseason and long-term trajectory, that being whether Giannis Antetokounmpo accepts his supermax extension offer. But Matthews’ upcoming dilemma represents the kind of challenge the Bucks will face in being able to maintain their championship-caliber roster going into next season.