The Utah Jazz found Wesley Mathews — an undrafted rookie who started 48 games for them last year.
But the Jazz are going to play Raja Bell’s tune next season. So Mathews is off to Portland, where he will be Brandon Roy’s backup. Portland had made an offer to Mathews for the mid-level exception of $5.8 million (with a bonus and a front-loaded deal as poison pills) and Utah has told him they will not match. Mathews was pretty pumped when he talked to FanHouse.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Matthews, who won’t start at shooting guard for Portland due to Brandon Roy but could unseat Nicolas Batum as the starting small forward. “It’s a great organization. Whether they want me to start or come off the bench, it’s fine with me. I can be a defender for them.”
Mathews has gone from undrafted, to making the Jazz on a one-year, rookie minimum deal ($427,163) to making more than No. 1 overall pick from last year Blake Griffin will make.
Last season Mathews averaged 9.4 points per game in almost 24 minutes of action. He shot 48 percent from the floor and a good 38 percent from three. He was their two-guard, the guy asked to cover Kobe Bryant in the second round of the playoffs. A guy given real responsibility by Jerry Sloan as a rookie.
He will help the Blazers, even if that is a pretty steep contract for a second-year backup wing player.
Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.
As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.
Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.
Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.
Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.
Maybe a little too pumped.
That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.
Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.
(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)
The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.
While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”
Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”
We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.
Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.
Shaquille O’Neal was as dominant a force as the NBA has ever seen.
His peak years came with the Lakers, when paired with Kobe Bryant one the court — and Phil Jackson manipulating both of them — they won three titles (and arguably would have had more if they stayed together). Those Lakers teams were one of the NBA’s great teams.
Friday night, the Lakers unveil Shaq’s statue at Staples Center. Take a look back at some of Shaq’s Lakers highlights.