Let’s face it. The Portland Trail Blazers need a massive influx of talent this offseason to go from a team that missed the play-in tournament by nine games to a team that can compete for a title.
Superstar Damian Lillard has said himself that he doesn’t want to be part of a rebuild, and that he wants to remain a Blazer. This leaves the team in a position where it needs to acquire new talent to surround Lillard and put a contending team on the court.
Of the former Trail Blazers who will be free agents this offseason, who would be a good fit if they returned to Rip City?
Note: This is strictly about each player’s potential fit with Portland’s needs, irrespective of the team’s potential cap situation when free agency begins, which will remain fluid during the offseason.
Former Blazers who could find their way home to Portland
No. 1: Will Barton
Will Barton was a key player for the Blazers from 2012 to 2015, playing primarily as a shooting guard and small forward. Barton brought a lot of energy to the court, using his speed and athleticism to create scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates.
He was also a solid defender and rebounder for his size, making him a versatile player who could contribute in a variety of ways.
At 32 years old, Barton is a role player now. His 102 offensive rating last season and 36.7 percent shooting from three could still be valuable for the Blazers, though, particularly as they look to add depth to their wing positions.
No. 2: Mason Plumlee
Mason Plumlee played for the Blazers from 2015 to 2017 as their starting center. Plumlee was a skilled passer and finisher around the rim, and he was also a solid rebounder and defender. His ability to play alongside Lillard and CJ McCollum was part of why the Blazers had such a potent offense during his time in Portland.
Plumlee spent this past season starting in Charlotte and playing off the bench for the Los Angeles Clippers. In the Clippers’ Game 1 win over the Phoenix Suns in the first round of this year’s playoffs, he was plus-16 with 11 rebounds and 7 points.
His 64 playoff games provide a level of experience that the Blazers’ young roster could use.
The Blazers desperately need depth at the five and Plumlee’s passing ability and size could still be valuable for the team, particularly as it looks to get more out of its role players.
No. 3: Seth Curry
Seth Curry played for the Blazers during the 2019-20 season as a two-guard, and he made an immediate impact with his sharpshooting. Curry shot 45 percent from 3-point range during his time in Portland, providing the team with a much-needed outside threat.
While Curry’s defense was sometimes a liability, his scoring ability made him a valuable player off the bench.
In nine NBA seasons, Curry has never shot less than 40 percent from three. This past season, he shot 46.3 percent from the field and 40.5 percent from deep.
The Blazers struggled with their bench shooting in 2022-23, so adding someone like Curry back into the mix could help open up the offense.
No. 4: Wesley Matthews
Wesley Matthews played for the Blazers from 2010 to 2015, primarily as their starting shooting guard. Matthews was a tough, physical player who was known for his defense and 3-point shooting. He was also a vocal leader on the team, helping set the tone for its hard-nosed style of play.
Matthews has since gone on to play on several playoff teams, racking up 65 games of postseason experience.
While Matthews’ best years may be behind him, his experience and leadership could still be valuable for a Blazers team that has struggled with consistency.
As the Blazers look to build around Lillard, they’ll need to find ways to maximize the contributions of their role players. While Barton, Plumlee, Curry, and Matthews are all past their primes, their styles of play and skillsets could still be valuable for a Portland team looking to make a deep playoff run.
Whether it’s adding more shooting or playmaking to the roster, the Blazers will need to find ways to support Lillard if they hope to make a serious push for an NBA championship, and these familiar faces could help.