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Wesley Matthews: 'We want people that want to be here'

Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images

Wesley Matthews was as stunned as anybody by DeAndre Jordan’s decision to renege on his verbal commitment to the Dallas Mavericks.

Dallas landing a verbal commitment from Matthews late the night of July 2 was considered a key to the Mavs convincing Jordan to choose them over returning to the Los Angeles Clippers. Of course, the center had second thoughts days later and ultimately re-signed with the Clippers.

“I didn’t believe it at first,” Matthews told reporters at the American Airlines Center on Friday, working out on an elliptical while watching the Mavs’ summer league team practice. “I thought that it was just rumors. You know how everything goes throughout free agency and social media now. I didn’t believe what I was seeing and what I was hearing.

“I talked to Chandler [Parsons] during that time. I talked to obviously Mark [Cuban] during that time, and it was real. But if he doesn’t want to be here, he doesn’t want to be here. We want people that want to be here and people that believe in what can happen here and what we’re going to work toward what can happen here."

Matthews, Jordan and Parsons had multiple, lengthy conversations about wanting to play together in Dallas while the trio hung out together in Los Angeles the weekend before free agency opened. Parsons, the Mavs’ small forward and lead recruiter, and Jordan mutually agreed that Matthews was the shooting guard the team should target in free agency.

Matthews, who turned down a four-year, $64 million offer from the Sacramento Kings, benefited financially by Jordan’s decision. His agreement with the Mavs was that the team would pay him as much as possible depending on whether they landed Jordan, who would require a max contract. Matthews would have made $57 million over four seasons with Jordan in Dallas. He ended up signing a four-year, $70 million max contract, a deal Matthews didn’t expect to receive.

“We were excited,” said Matthews, who is making remarkable progress in his recovery from a torn left Achilles tendon suffered in March. “We were excited to come here and we were excited to try to take this franchise back to where it belongs. I got every indication that he was all in, but he had a change of heart and that’s on him. My heart is here and I’m excited to be here.”

After Jordan reneged on his commitment, Cuban offered Matthews a chance to back out of his deal. Matthews didn’t consider that an option, and not just because salary cap space had dried up throughout the NBA.

“There was no decision,” Matthew said. “I came to Dallas with one intention, and that’s to win. I’m excited about it. With DeAndre or without DeAndre, I know that this organization is a championship organization. The year they won it, they knocked us out. I want a ring. I want jewelry. I want hardware, and I feel like we can do that here.”