DALLAS — They manned the backcourt together for the Utah Jazz during the 2009-10 season. Now, after both signed with the Dallas Mavericks this summer during free agency, three-time All-Star point guard Deron Williams and swingman Wesley Matthews find themselves reunited as teammates.
Entering the NBA as an undrafted rookie with the Jazz, Matthews suited up in all 82 games and made 48 starts during the ’09-10 schedule after starring for four seasons at Marquette. Playing alongside Williams, the 6-foot-5 Matthews also averaged 9.4 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 24.7 minutes per game as a rookie, connecting on a career-best 48.3 percent from the field in the process and 38.2 percent from behind the arc.
Matthews went on to average 13.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in 37.1 minutes per outing while starting all 10 of Utah’s playoff games that season, assisting Williams in leading the 53-win Jazz to the second round before being swept by the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers. That season then set the stage for Matthews to migrate to Portland after the Jazz declined to match a five-year, $34 million offer sheet from the Trail Blazers for the then-restricted free agent. And after Matthews spent the next five seasons becoming the Blazers’ all-time leader in three-point field goals made with 826, the 28-year-old now hopes to bounce back from a torn left Achilles tendon that ended his ’14-15 season after just 60 games.
“You know, nothing has ever been handed to me. And I said this when I signed in Portland, when people thought that it was outrageous. It wasn’t going to change who I was, and it didn’t, ” Matthews explained after signing a reported four-year deal worth $70 million this summer to come to Dallas. “You know, if anything, it made me hungrier. This (injury) is going to do the same thing. It’s just going to make me hungrier to prove not only that I’m worth the money. I’m not concerned with that. I just know that I can play this game, and I know that I can play it at a high level. I know that I can help a team and I’m excited, because Dallas feels the same way.”
Last season, Matthews averaged 15.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals an outing prior to going down with the injury against the Mavs on March 5. Meanwhile, Williams produced his lowest-scoring output since his rookie campaign last season, averaging 13.0 points, 6.6 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 31.1 minutes in 68 games for the Brooklyn Nets while shooting just 38.7 percent from the field.
Like Matthews, the ’09-10 campaign would prove to be Williams’ last full season in Utah, playing in 53 games for the Jazz the following year prior to being traded to the then-New Jersey Nets.