Wesley Matthews, one of the all-time fan favorite Portland Trail Blazers players, has been a name tossed casually around for a possible return to Portland in hypothetical banter by fans and even on this site. Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes embraces a return of Matthews in his list of realistic trade possibilities for teams with a top-five pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. He ponders the Blazers as part of a three-team trade with the Dallas Mavericks, who own the fifth pick, and the Memphis Grizzlies, who own the fourth pick:
Dallas Mavericks Get: Chandler Parsons, Evan Turner, Memphis’ No. 4 pick in 2018
Memphis Grizzlies Get: Harrison Barnes, Dallas’ 2019 first-round pick (top-10 protected in 2019, top-five protected in 2020), Portland’s No. 24 pick in 2018
Portland Trail Blazers Get: Wesley Matthews
Why not start with a big one?
Dallas gets a second pick in the top five, which it needs to get its rebuild going. With Dennis Smith Jr. already in the fold, the Mavs can now add two more high-lottery selections around him, setting the team up with a core that can grow together over the next half-decade. The price of accumulating so much young talent is steep: the brutal contracts of Parsons and Turner.
The Mavs’ 2019 cap space takes a hit here with Turner’s $18.6 million salary for 2019-20, but swapping in Parsons for Barnes is a financial wash. The bad money will be all gone by 2020, at which point the Smith-No. 4 pick-No. 5 pick trio should be ready to ascend.
The Grizzlies are stuck trying to compete in the near term as long as Marc Gasol and Mike Conley occupy roster spots and eat up vast swaths of cap space, so adding Barnes and a few other assets makes sense. It might seem like the Grizz are making out too well by also dumping Parsons’ dead money, but they’re the ones surrendering that No. 4 pick, which is the best asset in the deal.
Portland is glad to get off Evan Turner’s salary for the price of its No. 24 pick, reuniting with Matthews on a deal that expires after the 2018-19 season.
Not only would that get Portland some much-needed cap relief following the 2018-19 season (while keeping their core intact), they would also get a hard-nosed, proven “three and D” player beloved in the city of Portland. While Matthews is on the wrong side of 30 (he turns 32 in October), he has remained a productive player in three seasons with the Mavericks. He is set to make $18.6 million in the upcoming and final year of his contract.
Matthews spent five seasons in Portland from 2010-2015. The “Iron Man” has averaged over 30 minutes per game every year since his rookie season with the Utah Jazz. He averaged 12.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.7 assists for the Mavs this season in 63 games, all starts. He shot 40 percent from the field and 38 percent from distance.
Would you welcome a Wes homecoming? Do you think this trade would satisfy all involved? Let us know in the comments.