TUALATIN, Ore. — Wesley Matthews should pin a bright yellow caution sign on his right knee. Or, just ask his Trail Blazer teammates to pretty please stop running into it.
Matthews walked tentatively on the sideline near the end of the Blazers’ practice on Saturday afternoon. Matthews initially joked that the limp was just a part of his “swag,” but later ‘fessed up to a bone bruise on his right knee.
“Hitting the damn knee again,” said Matthews, wearing a protective brace.
Matthews described two instances on Saturday: Jared Jeffries defending and his knee brace hitting Matthews’ exposed knee cap and Will Barton cutting on offense but also ramming into the same sensitive area. Last week, Matthews missed the end of one practice after a collision with Nolan Smith on — you guessed it — his right knee.
It’s enough to make a man wonder about his friends.
“I’m starting to think it’s personal,” Matthews joked.
He continued: “What’s most important is coming into the season healthy … If my teammates leave me alone, I’m good.”
Good, and ready to play. Matthews fully expects to be on the floor for the Blazers’ home opener on Halloween night against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Blazers are off on Sunday but Matthews said that he will come into the practice facility to receive treatment on the knee.
Preparing for the Lakers
Only light work focused on the Blazers’ first opponent during Saturday’s practice. Coach Terry Stotts led a session that was more conceptual than physical preparation for the Lakers, saving the full game plan for early next week.
“They’re a lot different than they were last year, not only personnel-wise but the Princeton offense, that’s new. So it’s just one more thing that you have to be concerned about,” Stotts said. “The influx of Dwight Howard’s pick and rolls and post-ups and Steve Nash’s pick and rolls and Kobe (Bryant) does what he does and Pau (Gasol) does what he does, so there’s more things to prepare for than in years past.”
Bryant sat out the final two preseason games with a bruised foot, and panicked reports out of Los Angeles have stated that the veteran guard could miss the Lakers’ home opener.
However, Stotts will still construct the game plan as if The Mamba will walk onto the Rose Garden floor. Matthews and Nicolas Batum will get the assignment in defending Bryant.
• Ronnie Price still did not practice on Saturday and continues rehabilitation on his sprained right ankle. Although Price can shoot and work through exercises that involve use of his ankle, he has not joined his teammates in drills and scrimmages.
• Missing Price messes with the Blazers’ backcourt rotation.
“With Ronnie being healthy, I think that makes it a little easier,” Stotts said. “But for me, how I rotate the ones, twos and threes is the challenge right now.”
• It’s election season and on Monday, the Blazers will pick team captains. Players decide.