The start of each season always brings about a new first for Wesley Matthews.
In 2009, it was his first year as an NBA player. In 2010, it was his first year as a Portland Trail Blazer.
And in 2011, according to Matthews, it is his first year beginning the season healthy.
The third-year guard said the ankle that irked him throughout most of last year has healed completely. As a result, he said “I’m going to be playing a lot more over the rim. I’m excited about that.”
But perhaps the biggest storyline involving Matthews is the recent news that Nate McMillan is considering re-inserting Brandon Roy into the starting lineup.
Last year, Matthews filled in as the starting shooting guard after knee injuries sidelined Roy. He averaged 15.9 points per game — his scoring seeing a major uptick once he became a starter — and shot 40.7 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. So how would he feel about Roy supplanting him as a starter in the 2011-2012 season?
“I’m excited B Roy’s back. He can bring a lot to this team. I’m excited to see what he can do,” Matthews said. “(But) I want to be on the court. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to be on the court. I’d be lying if I didn’t want to see myself as a starter.”
A couple weeks back, Matthews tweeted that he expected Roy to be back in the lineup despite all the talk of the Amnesty Clause. He backed up his statement Wednesday by saying he “couldn’t envision the Blazers without Brandon Roy.”
Asked how he balances such feelings with the knowledge that the two will likely compete for a starting position, Matthews responded, “it’s OK. I’m going to get better. He’s going to get better.”
Matthews added that he has interacted with Roy multiple times since the lockout ended, and that “it’s all love. We’re real tight.”
Well, most of the time they are.
Matthews’ alma mater, Marquette, downed Roy’s old school, Washington, in a thrilling 79-77 victory Tuesday, and Wesley hasn’t had the chance to gloat.
“He’s ducking me right now,” Matthews said.