The bombshell trade involving Kristaps Porzingis being sent to the Mavericks sent a ripple effect through the entire league.
The Sixers are no exception. The Knicks will be loaded with cap space and a high draft pick in the biggest market in the country. Granted they’re still the Knicks, but still, it could create more competition in free agency and in the Eastern Conference.
The immediate impact on the Sixers could be with the players New York just acquired. Dennis Smith Jr. is a young piece you’d think they’d want to hold on to, but veterans Wesley Matthews and DeAndre Jordan — both on expiring contracts — are a different story.
If/when the Knicks buy out the rest of the $18 million owed to Matthews, the Sixers should pounce — if you’ve been following this scribe all season, this stance should come as no surprise.
Matthews, a 10-year veteran, checks a lot of boxes for the Sixers.
Three-point shooting to help floor spacing? Check. Matthews has shot 38 percent from three for his career.
A good on-ball defender capable of preventing dribble penetration? Check. Matthews’ regularly drew the toughest perimeter assignment for the Mavs — and did well more often than not.
Creating off the dribble? Not to the degree he did in Portland before his Achilles injury, but probably more so than anyone outside of the Sixers’ three stars. So we’ll say half a check.
Give credit where it’s due: Landry Shamet has far exceeded any expectations that were set out for him. The rookie guard is shooting threes at an elite clip and has steadily improved on the defensive end. He was huge in the Sixers’ win over the Warriors Thursday.
T.J. McConnell is one of the leaders of this team. Jimmy Butler called him “the heart and soul” of the Sixers. He’s a pest defensively and a killer in the midrange. With all that said, McConnell’s game is not sustainable for 25-to-30 minutes a night in the NBA.
Corey Brewer, the recent recipient of a second 10-day contract, has been a spark plug. But his immediate impact only highlights the Sixers’ need for an experienced perimeter player off the bench or perhaps in the starting lineup in Matthews' case. With all the health issues Wilson Chandler — who's been a starter since the deal for Butler — has had this season, Matthews can bear some of that burden.
Another interesting wrinkle is that Matthews was a senior at Marquette when some JUCO transfer named Jimmy Butler showed up. Matthews has said that Butler “was like my little brother” in college. That could certainly help in the recruiting process and it couldn’t hurt for Butler to have a friend in the locker room.
Matthews is 32 and his best days are behind him, but he’s a perfect fit for the Sixers. He’s proven, skilled, tough and adds another “adult in the room,” as Brett Brown likes to say.
Whether it’s starting or coming off the bench, Matthews would be an outstanding addition for the Sixers in their quest to win the Eastern Conference.
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