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News » Rookie trying to make his mark


Rookie trying to make his mark


Rookie trying to make his mark MADRID ? Now that they're back in Salt Lake City after preseason stops in London and Madrid, and he's back on Earth himself, the Jazz may not know what in the world to think of Wesley Matthews. And they don't have long to decide, as a call will be made before the end of the month on whether to waive Matthews or award the undrafted rookie free agent swingman from Marquette with a regular-season roster spot. "We've got to look at him," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said of Matthews, a soon-to-be 23-year-old who is the son of nine-year, six-team (Washington, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Antonio and the Los Angeles Lakers) NBA retiree Wes Matthews and former University of Wisconsin track standout Pam Moore.

"He's a young kid," Sloan added, "and I hate to see him get away ? any (of the free agents who came to training camp), for that matter ?because he has been interesting all along." Matthews struggled early with the Jazz's Orlando Summer League team in July, but came on late and earned an invite to fall camp. He made a name for himself ? Matthews prefers Wesley, by the way, but seems resigned to the notion that those not-in-the-know typically shrink it to Wes , saying, "That's my name, but everybody decides to cut it short; I really can't do much about it" ? with a 16-point showing that included 3-for-4 3-point shooting in the Jazz's one-point NBA EuropeLive 2009 tour preseason loss to Chicago last Tuesday in London. "DWill ( Jazz point guard Deron Williams) came up to me before the game and said, 'Make the most of your opportunity; it's a blessing and just play ball,' " Matthews, who seems to be a favorite among several vets in the Jazz locker room, said after getting a surprise start in London. "( Jazz center Mehmet) Okur said something to me in the locker room. So, I mean, there was just comfort in that. And Eric (Maynor, the Jazz's first-round rookie point) said probably the most realistic thing to me. He just said, 'Basketball.' "So that's what I tried to do out there ? just not mess up, get in the right spots and play tough defense." He did all that, and more, and it was a showing that left Sloan, for one, looking for even more beyond that. But Matthews, making a second straight unexpected start, was beckoned back to reality on Thursday in Spain, where he had two points on 1-for-1 shooting and no assists, no rebounds and no steals while logging 15 minutes in the Jazz's 22-point exhibition blowout of Spanish League power Real Madrid. It had to be disappointing, especially knowing the Jazz may have a job open because veteran small forward Matt Harpring is not expected to play any more because of chronic knee and ankle injuries and starting small forward C.J. Miles is expected to be out for at least the rest of the month and perhaps eight weeks or so with a ruptured and now surgically repaired shooting-hand thumb ligament. "I saw C.J. went down (during a scrimmage last Monday in London) and was upset. You know, I hate seeing people get hurt," Matthews said. "Me and C.J. ... when you've been around a while, you start to build relationships with guys. So, I just felt bad for him. "Then I started to realize, yeah, I might have to step up more. The shot might be coming a little sooner." He has competition, though. Keeping NBA journeyman and fellow free agent Ronald Dupree remains one possibility, though with five points, three rebounds and one assist over 27 minutes, he was quiet in Europe. And with Miles now out, Sloan said the Jazz may scour the waiver wire in the coming days and weeks and consider signing an experienced addition that way. All of which leaves Matthews living just what you might expect, yet wondering the whole while if it will end well. "Of course, it's a dream," he said. "And as far as a chance, I don't know. I mean, I hope it's good. You know, I'm living the dream right now. I just played in front of however many people in Europe, in a Utah Jazz uniform, started against the Chicago Bulls. "I mean, I could say I did that. But, at the same time, that's not what I'm content with. You know, I want to get better, get better, get better, and hopefully I've got a good shot at making the team." Just how good, though, that shot really is ? London good, or more Madrid good ? remains to be seen. "We'll see where we are at the end of the thing," Sloan, while still in Spain, said of the call still to be made, "and see what the front office and everybody decides." e-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 12, 2009

 

 
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