A rehabbing Wesley Matthews still thinks a $15 million salary is reasonable

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A rehabbing Wesley Matthews still thinks a $15 million salary is reasonable
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History has not been kind to NBA players returning from torn Achilles tendons.

The American Journal of Sports Medicine recently published a study examining the effects of 18 such injuries from 1998-2011 and concluded, "The NBA players who returned to play after repair of complete Achilles tending ruptures showed a significant decrease in playing time and performance."

The average age and experience of those 18 subjects was 29.7 years old and 7.6 years in the league. Wesley Matthews, who ruptured his Achilles on March 5, will turn 29 this October, just in time for his seventh NBA season. He apparently does not subscribe to The American Journal of Sports Medicine.

Asked about a USA TODAY report indicating he would still seek twice his 2014-15 salary of $7.25 million on the free agent market this summer despite the injury — or roughly $15 million for those without an abacus — a still recovering Matthews told CSN Northwest, "I don't think that's an unreasonable number."

Granted, Matthews was one of the best 3-point shooters in the league this past season, converting 173 triples at a 38.9 percent clip in 60 games, and that skill doesn't require as much explosiveness as others, but it was his contributions as a two-way stud that made him such a valuable player. There's a reason the Blazers went from winning 68.3 percent of their games with the league's third-ranked defense before Matthews' injury to losing 54.6 percent of their games with the league's 24th-ranked defense after it.

The road back isn't easy. Just ask Dominique Wilkins, Elton Brand and Chauncey Billups, whose recovery from an Achilles tear ranged from sublime (Wilkins) to catastrophic (Billups). Matthews has reportedly resumed basketball activities already, bucking a trend that suggests two-fifths of NBA players who suffer the injury never play professionally again, so perhaps advancements in treatment are on his side.

Now, whether that's worth a five-year, $75 million deal from Portland or a four-year, $60-million contract elsewhere is another story. Had Matthews finished this past season healthy, he likely would have been considered a bargain at that price once the salary cap balloons to an estimated $108 million in 2017-18.

Now? That's a significant gamble for any team, particularly the Blazers, who hope to re-sign LaMarcus Aldridge to a max contract this summer and may have to do the same with Damian Lillard in 2016.

After all, the AJSM study found that players who have ruptured their Achilles tendons suffer an average dip in player efficiency rating of 4.57 in their first season back from injury — the difference between Matthews' 16.1 PER and Avery Bradley's 11.5 PER in 2014-15. For the record, Bradley, who fancies himself a two-way standout, signed a four-year, $32 million extension with the Celtics last summer.

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Ben Rohrbach

is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!