That was the moment Wesley Matthews' career might be in jeopardy.
A torn left Achilles sent Matthews to the floor in excruciating pain. The basketball world held its collective breath knowing the 3-point specialist and all-around good guy, playing in a contract year, had suffered one of sports' most terrible injuries.
Losing Matthews would prove costly to the Trail Blazers. They went 10-12 in the final 22 games of the season, despite C.J. McCollum playing well in his absence, and got demolished 4-1 against the Memphis Grizzlies with three of those losses coming by double digits. Portland missed Matthews' 15.9 points per game and 39 percent 3-point shooting.
But three months after suffering that Achilles injury, and halting what could've been a career year, this happened.
That would be Mr. Wes Matthews, shooting jumpers and appearing well-ahead of schedule, just in time before free agency begins July 1. This video is also a good sign for the Mavericks, who could go from the team that witnessed him lay on the Moda Center floor, to the team that brings him on as the shooting guard Dallas desperately needs.
It's not certain that Matthews would be the same player when he comes back. According to a study from PubMed.gov where 18 NBA players were studied after coming back from a ruptured Achilles over a 13-year period, 39 percent of those players didn't return to the league, while the other 61 percent saw a decrease in performance and playing time.
But this is Wes Matthews we're talking about, and Instagram doesn't lie.
Fit with the Mavericks
The only reason the Mavericks would go after Wes Matthews is if Monta Ellis is gone. As Hal Brown explored in detail last week, Ellis has an $8.7 million player option that he must choose to exercise this summer. If he declines it, that frees up money and gives Dallas a chance to go after a guy that isn't a superstar, but could be a worthy weapon on both ends of the floor.
Matthews didn't average nearly 16 points per game last season by accident. Portland is a deep team built around Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge. Matthews is a deadly third option for a Trail Blazers team that excelled at spreading the floor, which is what Dallas needs because when the Mavericks spread the floor, choirs sing heavenly tunes.
If Monta walks, Matthews becomes one of the top shooting guard options on Dallas' radar. It's a long shot to get one of the three high-profiled big men (Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan and Aldridge), so Dallas may have to use its abundance of money to shore up guys who can shoot and play some sort of defense.
Portland allowed 105 points per 100 possessions with Matthews on the floor, but the Blazers scored 114 points per 100 with him on the floor. Compare that to Ellis, who when he was on the floor, Dallas allowed 107 points per 100 touches, while scoring only 100. The defense may not be there as advertised, but it's more than enough to put him on the floor with, for example, Al-Farouq Aminu and Tyson Chandler to make Dallas a formidable defensive team.
Matthews' 3-point shooting would also be a welcome addition at one of the guard spots. Dallas shot 35.2 percent from 3-point range as a team last year, with Richard Jefferson leading the team with a terrific 42.6 percent clip. But the backcourt needs desperate shooting help. Of the six guards that saw the floor this year for Dallas, only 33 percent of 3-point shots were made. Ellis was one of those who shot well below that average at 28.5 percent.
He might not be the same player after this Achilles injury, but you don't forget how to shoot. And Dallas might be able to get Matthews at a good price, just to see how he recovers. He'll turn 29 years old in October, so he's still young. If he really is ahead of schedule with his rehab, like the ol' IG indicates, that's a good sign for him and, possibly, the Mavericks.