Matthews sticks with reeling Mavs after Jordan rejection
DALLAS (AP) — Mavericks owner Mark Cuban gave free agent guard Wesley Matthews an out after accepting the reality that DeAndre Jordan was spurning Dallas to re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Matthews turned him down, deciding to stand by his agreement to sign with a franchise that could be reeling for a long time after the 6-foot-11 center’s stunning reversal.
“I can’t print his exact response, but suffice it to say he is excited to play for our Mavs,” Cuban wrote to fans on his Cyber Dust app. “Wes Matthews is exactly the type of player we want in a Mavs uniform and our fans will love him.”
Matthews was the only winner on the Dallas side because of Jordan’s switch, signing a max contract Thursday at four years and $70 million, or $17.5 million per season, according to a person with knowledge of the deal. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team wasn’t releasing terms.
The 28-year-old Matthews was expected to make about $14 million per season after Jordan agreed to a four-year, $80 million max deal with Dallas last Friday. Jordan changed his mind and stayed with the team that drafted him seven years ago.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said Cuban alone would address free agency with reporters. The owner was asked about Jordan during an appearance at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum later Thursday.
“You had to say his name,” Cuban said. “The conversation we had today is, it’s over.”
Instead of celebrating the biggest free agent pickup in franchise history, the Mavericks are in their fourth straight summer of missing out on a big-name target. And that’s all since Cuban chose salary cap flexibility over keeping key pieces of the franchise’s first championship team in 2011.
The Mavericks made their first move at center since missing out on Jordan by trading for Milwaukee’s Zaza Pachulia on Thursday. Dallas gave up a future second-round pick and sees Pachulia as a starter. The 12-year veteran from the Republic of Georgia started 45 of his 73 games for the Bucks last season.
Dirk Nowitzki might be the one most affected by Jordan’s reversal because the 37-year-old German is hoping for at least one more run at a title going into his 18th season. He has two years left on his contract, and can opt out after next season.
The Mavericks, who haven’t won a playoff series since that 2011 title, don’t have a defensive anchor in the middle, a role filled by Tyson Chandler four years ago. The Mavericks hoped to have Chandler, who returned in a trade last summer, as a backup plan if the pursuit of Jordan failed. But the Dallas fan favorite committed to Phoenix early in free agency and made it official Thursday.
While Matthews gives Dallas a solid shooting guard, the Mavericks were still looking for a starting point guard and eyeing Jeremy Lin as they waited to wrap up Jordan’s deal. Instead, Lin committed to Charlotte while the Jordan saga unfolded into the night Wednesday. Cuban said the former Texas A&M player never made contact with him after the Dallas owner traveled to Houston. Clippers coach Doc Rivers, one of those at Jordan’s house to make sure he signed with Los Angeles, countered Thursday that it’s up to the agent to contact a team.
Small forward Chandler Parsons is now a headliner alongside Nowitzki, and can opt out of the final year of his three-year contract after next season as well. Guards Devin Harris and Raymond Felton are under contract, and should be joined soon by J.J. Barea and first-round draft pick Justin Anderson.
Potential role players in the frontcourt include Dwight Powell and three more who should soon sign soon — a pair of returnees in Charlie Villanueva and Richard Jefferson and Jeremy Evans, a free agent who spent his first five seasons in Utah.
While Dallas whiffed on the likes of Deron Williams, Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony in each of the past three summers, none came close to picking the Mavericks. And the team knew early enough to pursue other options.
Jordan’s reversal was different, and it compounded a problem the Mavericks brought on themselves in the failed trade for point guard Rajon Rondo last season. Not only are two young potential cornerstones in Rondo and Jordan no longer options, but Dallas’ first-round pick goes to Boston unless the Mavericks have a spot in the top seven.
The gloom seemed to overshadow even the team’s summer league practice Thursday.
Carlisle briefly addressed reporters as players scattered quickly while the coach was saying they wouldn’t be allowed to answer questions about free agency. That left Carlisle with little to talk about other than Matthews, who tore an Achilles tendon with Portland in a game against Dallas in March and might not be ready for the start of the season.
“He was the first guy we talked to,” Carlisle said. “He’s very serious about not only his career but he’s serious about winning and he had great interest in Dallas. I’m not the least bit surprised that he followed through with his commitment.”
The Mavericks and their fans could be hurting for a while over a player who didn’t follow through with one.
AP Basketball Writer Jon Krawczynski and AP Video Journalist John L. Mone contributed to this report.
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