Matisse Thybulle isn't going anywhere. The Portland Trail Blazers are matching the Dallas Mavericks' three-year, $33 million offer sheet to retain the restricted free agent, according to Adrian Wojnarowski.
Thybulle, 26, arrived in Portland at the trade deadline after three-and-a-half seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers. He made the All-Defensive Second Team in 2021 and 2022, but, before the trade, his playing time dwindled because of his offensive limitations. In 22 games with the Blazers, though, Thybulle averaged 27.7 minutes and made 38.8% of his 3-point attempts on 3.9 attempts per game. He was not only more comfortable in Portland, but much more confident.
The offer sheet included a player option on the final season and a 15% trade kicker, and it will require the Blazers to pay Thybulle $2.6 million within 14 days of the contract being approved and $2.6 million on October. 1, according to ESPN's Bobby Marks. For a full year, Portland cannot trade Thybulle to Dallas and cannot trade him anywhere without his consent.
For the Mavericks, who had the 25th-ranked defense last season, this is a bit of a blow. They need as many effective, versatile defenders around Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving as they can get, and, had the Blazers decided not to match, they would have gotten one at a fair price. It stings a little less, though, after to acquire Grant Williams from the Boston Celtics on a four-year, $54 million contract. Williams will presumably slide straight into the starting lineup at power forward.
Thybulle's role in Portland next season is less clear because the Damian Lillard situation is unresolved. The Blazers are reportedly working to accommodate Lillard's trade request, but, while he only wants to be traded to the Miami Heat, the front office is seeking the best trade package it can find. Thybulle could keep his spot in Portland's starting lineup, or he could be supplanted by somebody who comes back in the Lillard trade. (It is also possible that the Blazers will choose to start their young core of Scoot Henderson, Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe together, pushing Thybulle to the bench.)
For Thybulle, this contract is a reward for what he has shown defensively over the first four years of his career. Had he been a more consistent 3-point shooter -- or more reliable when putting the ball on the floor -- he might have commanded a deal like Williams'. Portland, though, seems like the perfect place for him to prove that he can be a viable offensive player, perhaps even more so than Dallas. If and when the Blazers trade Lillard, they will be more focused on player development than immediate results. Ideally, by the time they're back in the playoff picture, Thybulle will be the two-way wing everybody wants.