The Milwaukee Bucks had a decision to make on Wesley Matthews’ future with the franchise by Friday afternoon. The journeyman was brought on earlier this season via a non-guaranteed deal, and the deadline to waive him before that contract guaranteed was this afternoon. According to The Athletic’s Eric Nehm, the Bucks plan to keep Matthews for the remainder of the year, which was the obvious move for them to make.
Why the Milwaukee Bucks were right to guarantee Wesley Matthews’ deal
With the Bucks severely shorthanded, they signed Matthews to a deal in early December to give them some much-needed support and depth. Not much was thought of the move right away, as the swingman was simply viewed as someone who would be a playable piece that has familiarity with the team due to his previous stint with the franchise during the 2019-20 season. However, Matthews has been fantastic for the Bucks during this second-chance as he has played incredible basketball as the team has gone through ongoing roster turmoil.
Through 12 games, Matthews is averaging 5.9 points per game while shooting 50 percent from the floor and a red-hot 42.9 percent from 3-point territory. The veteran has given the team a big boost off the bench offensively, but he has held his own defensively on top of it. At 6-foot-4, the wing is incredibly versatile on that side of things, and head coach Mike Budenholzer has utilized him in various matchups to this point. Two-way play like Matthews provides is why he has been closing games for the Bucks and even making clutch plays, such as his go-ahead 3-pointer with 30 seconds left against the Boston Celtics on Christmas.
Matthews will be useful not just during the regular season but throughout the postseason as well. He provides enough outside shooting to make an impact offensively while his defense will be pivotal when the Bucks are going up against top-notch scorers like Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum, or several others. Many have said that Matthews could play the P.J. Tucker role – provide robust defense, passable 3-point shooting, and toughness – which he has done to this point as he has developed into a key rotational piece.
Given how well Matthews played with the Bucks this season, this move was a no-brainer. Some will say the same thing about DeMarcus Cousins, who was on the same type of deal and was cut on Wednesday. Though cutting Cousins was a head-scratching move, there were questions about how he might fit into the postseason rotation down the line, while someone like Matthews has a definitive role in that scenario. If the Bucks had let Matthews walk like they did Cousins, it would have been incredibly shocking.
Matthews, a Wisconsin native, has made the most of his return home thus far this season. There is still much work to be done, but it is welcoming to know that Matthews will be on board as the Bucks look to defend their title this season. Hopefully he can continue to be an impact player off the bench for the defending champs.