Brewer May Return to Jazz, Replace Matthews in Utah
A representative of Brewer's agent, Henry Thomas, confirmed to FanHouse on Tuesday that Brewer is interested in returning to Utah, which traded him last February to Memphis. The representative said Brewer's camp has had discussions with the Jazz, but that Brewer only might land in Utah again if the team doesn't match the five-year, $33.4 million offer sheet on Matthews by Monday's deadline.
Many observers believe there is a decent chance the offer sheet, which surprised many, won't be matched. Matthews, who averaged 9.4 points last season as an undrafted rookie out of Marquette before becoming a restricted free agent, signed for the most allowed in his classification for next season, getting the full mid-level exception of $5.765 million. However, the deal is front-loaded with a signing bonus, which means Matthews would receive more than $9 million next season.
Even Matthews' own father, former NBA guard Wes Matthews, had told FanHouse earlier this month it would be a "dream'' for his son to get the full mid-level amount and that he believed his son was a "$3 million to $5 million player'' for next season.
If Jazz officials believe the Trail Blazers have overpaid for Matthews, they might turn to Brewer. Although Thomas' representative did not discuss salary possibilities, Brewer figures to be had for less than what Matthews will get. Brewer's value went down after he suffered a torn hamstring shortly after the deal to Memphis, and was lost for the season. The Grizzlies didn't extend him a qualifying offer last month, making him an unrestricted free agent rather than a restricted free agent.
Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor had confirmed last week, before Matthews signed the offer sheet with Portland, that he would be talking with Brewer's camp .
If Brewer is healthy, an argument can be made the Jazz wouldn't lose a lot at shooting guard. Brewer averaged 12.0 points in 2007-08 and 13.7 in 2008-09 before slipping to 9.5 while starting all 53 of Utah's games last season before he was traded. After the deal, made because the Jazz wanted to clear more time for Matthews and because Brewer's salary demands for this summer were uncertain, Matthews moved into the starting lineup. He then averaged 12.1 points in Utah's final 29 games.
The Jazz now is busy closing a deal to acquire forward Al Jefferson from Minnesota. After that, team officials are expected to decide if they want to match on Matthews or try to close a deal for Brewer to return. The salary demands of Brewer, who was drafted by Utah in 2006 and has a four-year scoring average of 10.3, figure to play a key role in what happens.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter@christomasson