The Dallas Mavericks and Wes Matthews are at a crossroads. With Dirk Nowitzki quickly approaching retirement, the Mavs made a subtle shift toward a youth movement this season. Youngsters like Nerlens Noel, Yogi Ferrell, and Seth Curry all saw major rotation minutes as Dallas struggled to stay in an ultimately doomed playoff race.
At 30, Matthews doesn’t really fit in on a rebuilding roster. Throw in that he has two years and $36 million remaining on his contract, and it’s not hard to imagine the Mavs swapping him for a younger prospect. Our sister blog, Mavs Moneyball, even raised the idea of a Wes trade last month.
Pros and Cons of a Trade for Wes
The follow-up question: would the Blazers be interested? On the positive side, Matthews would bring a strong veteran presence and tireless work ethic to a team that, at times, needed it last season.
Matthews put up a solid 13.5 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game with the Mavs this season—outproducing many of Portland’s current role players. He also looked good defensively for long stretches. Here’s a classic example of that tough D that Portland fans probably remember (credit, again, to Moneyball for a review of Wes’ defense):
Wes Matthews gave Dame Lillard nothing on that final possession pic.twitter.com/L9nnHNeanX— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) December 22, 2016
On the negative side, Matthews is clearly on the downside of his career. The Achilles injury and the natural effects of age have sapped away some of his athleticism, and his play noticeably worsened as the season progressed—a sign of fatigue. Most glaringly, Matthews shot a decent 36 percent on 3-pointers over the last two seasons, but his overall shooting dipped below 40 percent. It’s possible Blazers coach Terry Stotts could revive some of Wes’ efficiency, but he’s clearly not the fringe-All-Star candidate he once was and Dallas coach Rick Carlisle is also known for maximizing his players’ potential.
The Practical Details
The Blazers do have young players they could sacrifice to acquire Wes. Most notably, an Allen Crabbe for Matthews trade would work under NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement rules. A Crabbe-for-Matthews deal would cut one year off Portland’s salary obligations, give the Blazers an uptick in raw production and be a significant improvement on defense, but would sacrifice some 3-point accuracy.
In the short term Matthews would likely be able to win the starting small forward role in Portland—the Blazers essentially cycled their entire lineup into that position last season and nobody stuck. Whether or not Matthews would retain enough ability to hold onto that role for the next two or three seasons and be satisfied likely coming off the bench at the end of his contract remain open questions.
Overall, trading for Matthews could be appealing to the Blazers but would hinge largely on whether or not they trust him to stay effective for the few years. The Mavs would likely be interested in any deal that brings in a young player with supposed upside, and the BlazerManiacs would certainly love to have No. 2 back in red and black.
Tell us what you think in the comments. Would you trade for Wes Matthews?
Eric Griffith | @EricG_NBA
Should the Blazers trade for Wes Matthews?
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