With Kristaps Porzingis joining the Dallas Mavericks and a host of lame-duck veterans headed to the New York Knicks, an NBA Trade Deadline phenomenon commences. The principals in such trades stick with their new teams, but ancillary participants—plus players who weren’t traded but get displaced in the new regimes—suddenly hit the market. Portland Trail Blazers fans have noticed that among the flotsam and jetsam of the Porzingis trade floats an old favorite: Wesley Matthews. Would the Blazers welcome him back? Let’s turn to the Mailbag.
With the KP trade that sent Wes Matthews to New York, the Knicks are going to go hard on the tank train immediately, right? Does that mean that they might soon buy out Wes Matthews, and if so, that we might get him back? If so, the Blazers and Wes are a good fit? Without thinking about it too hard, he’s exactly the kind of win-now wing player we need. What do you think?
Under those circumstances, with a buyout and veteran’s minimum contract, I’d be fine with the Blazers taking on Matthews. His .380 three-point shooting percentage would rank him 3rd on the roster, above fellow small forwards Jake Layman (.359) and Moe Harkless (.300). He picks his spots on offense, can eat up to 30 minutes per game if necessary, and he’ll be an asset to the locker room. He’s not going to provide a huge lift, but more bodies at the wing positions can’t hurt. Maybe he makes enough difference to win them a couple extra regular-season games and a surprise game in the playoffs. Plus there’s the nostalgia factor. Can’t beat that.
The Blazers may not see it that way for several reasons:
- Barring salary-saving moves alongside, that minimum contract would cost them around $5.5 million in real dollars between a half year’s salary and extra luxury-tax payments.
- Matthews may be a locker-room asset, but there’s no guarantee that Harkless or Layman would be happy about him bumping them. One of them would get buried; the other would platoon. They haven’t earned consistent playing time this year, but their prospects have been better than that.
- Nostalgia lasts about two games. After that, performance matters. The 32-year-old Dallas version of Wes Matthews isn’t the guy you remember. His offense is fine: not quite in his prime range but relatively well-aged. His defense...not so much. That was the secret sauce that made him valuable in Portland. Now he’d be a third undependable defender at the same position of need. (Harkless is pretty good on “D” but his overall play and playing time have been sporadic. Layman has a ways to go defensively.) Unless that turns around—and I fully believe it’s a physical issue, not mental or skill-based—his impact will be less than you think.
File this under the category of things I’d do because they’d be fun, cool, and help a little bit. But I’m not paying the checks or managing the locker room. The Blazers may figure it’s not worth it. That’s understandable.
If you have a Mailbag question, send it to the address below. In the meantime, why not hedge your bets and donate a couple tickets so kids in need can see (maybe) Wesley Matthews and (certainly) the Trail Blazers face the Brooklyn Nets on March 25th? Here’s how!
To donate tickets to kids for Blazer’s Edge Night against the Nets on 3/25/19:
Click this link or copy/paste into your address bar: https://rosequarter.com/groupnights/
Enter the Promo Code: BLAZERSEDGE
Go through the purchase process just as if you were buying tickets for yourself.
If you order through this link with this code, tickets will be automatically donated and designated at Will Call with your order. No need to do anything else, it’s just that easy!
If you run into difficulty or wish to donate more tickets than the online service will allow, contact our Ticket Representative, Alec Botts, at 503.963.3926.