Rumor: Chicago Bulls Targeting Wesley Matthews in Free Agency


ESPN analyst and former Chicago Bulls player Jalen Rose believes that Portland Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews could possibly join the Bulls this summer via free agency. This could potentially be a good addition for the Bulls, but it would require some significant roster turnover.

(The relevant portion of video begins at the 41-minute mark.)

Matthews becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer after completing the final year of his five-year, $32.5 million contract he signed back in 2010.

The 6’5″, 200-pound two-guard averaged 15.9 points per game on 44.8 percent shooting from the field during the 2014-15 season. He started in 60 games last season with Portland before rupturing his Achilles tendon in March.

Matthew’s size gives him the ability to be an elite on-ball defender. His size also enables him to defend both the shooting guard and small forward position; which provides valuable versatility to any defense. Matthews expressed his confidence in his own defensive ability in an interview with Erik Gundersen of the Columbian in October.

"“Do I think I’m All-Defense? Absolutely. I think I’m the best two-way two-guard in the NBA. But I feel like we need to be a good defensive team within the scheme of the game. We’re not out there gambling, trying to reach and get steals. That would put us in a bind if I don’t get it.”"

Matthews told Sean Meagher of the Oregonian in a May interview that he would like to be re-signed by Portland this summer.

"“So much stuff can happen between now and when free agency starts. Ideally, perfect situation, yeah [I would like to stay in Portland]. Who doesn’t want to go for the perfect situation?”"

According to Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune, Trail Blazers General Manager Neil Olshey was non-committal when asked whether he plans on re-signing Matthews to a long-term deal.

"As evidenced by our 11-15 record (actually 11-16) without Wesley and a first-round playoff exit for a team we thought had chance to compete for the Western Conference title, we know how important he is,” Olshey says. “We know his value to us; we also know he’s going to have market value around the league.”"

If the Bulls decide to go after Matthews this summer, it would have major implications on this roster and the financial situation of the franchise.

With the addition of Matthews, the Bulls would have an overload of players at the shooting guard/small forward position. Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Doug McDermott, Tony Snell and Nikola Mirotic are all players that played one or both of these positions last season.

With the logjam at these two positions, someone would have to be released to make room for Matthews. This burden likely falls on Dunleavy, who becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. Although Dunleavy has contributed positively in his two years in Chicago, Matthews is a clear upgrade both offensively (averages more points per game on a higher shooting percentage over his career) and defensively.

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Financially, the addition of Wesley Matthews would have major implications on this team.

Matthews netted over $7 million between the actual contract money and the signing bonus this season. If Matthews does decide to chase money in free agency, his price tag would likely be more than the Bulls can afford.

However, Matthews will likely expect big money to be enticed out of Portland, and the Bulls simply can’t afford to pay him his likely desired price without a major roster overhaul.

Money always talks in the end. The Bulls simply can’t afford to sign Matthews without a potentially detrimental overhaul of their existing roster. With the emergence of Butler into an all-star and the presence of a slew of talented wing scorers already on the roster, selling out to get a high-octane scorer doesn’t seem as logical as it has in years past. The Bulls will likely be forced to pass on another shooting guard free agent this summer.

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