TUALATIN, Ore. — When Eric Maynor arrived in Portland, he instantly became a hit for certain Trail Blazers.
With Maynor, Wesley Matthews now has an in-house football buddy.
Also, assistant coach David Vanterpool gets a link and a familiar face to work with from his Oklahoma City Thunder days.
But more importantly, Maynor immediately becomes the backcourt’s best friend. Through him, Portland has found its top guard in the bench rotation.
“He’s our backup,” coach Terry Stotts announced on Saturday afternoon, after watching only one brief practice with Maynor. “He’s been around for a while. He’s a smart player anyway so that makes the process and transition a little easier. A lot easier, actually.”
Though he’ll still be living out of suitcases, Maynor will make his Blazer debut on Sunday night against the Boston Celtics as Damian Lillard’s prime reinforcement.
“It’s been real smooth,” Maynor said about the integration. “I’m looking forward to it. Coming here playing with a good bunch of guys. Got a great coaching staff. I’m looking forward to the minutes. I’m looking forward to playing.”
Maynor has appeared in just 37 games this season and averaged 2.8 points and 2.0 assists. The numbers may suggest a peripheral player but when Portland acquired the four-year veteran on Thursday before the end of the NBA trade deadline, it did so with the intention of pumping jet fuel into a grounded bench.
Maynor, plucked from the Western Conference contenders in Oklahoma City, has a connection with a successful franchise and an understanding that exceeds the Blazers’ other backup guard options.
While the Blazers dropped their seventh straight game on Friday night, Maynor reviewed a DVD of the team’s offensive plays. As a four-year veteran, Maynor said he had a working knowledge of the base Portland runs. And on Saturday, he showed it.
“Watching him today, I feel pretty good about it,” Stotts said. “I think by (Sunday), I’m pretty confident he’ll be an effective player for us.”
“He seems like he has a high basketball IQ. He’s picking up a lot of things that we run. I think he’ll have a quick learning curve.”
Maynor believes his connection with some Blazer personnel will also help his comfort level.
Maynor and Matthews were teammates on the Utah Jazz briefly during the 2009-2010 season. The pair eventually split up — Maynor dealt to the Thunder his rookie season and Matthews moved to Portland — but never lost contact.
“He’s a good friend of mine, he’s a good player. Now I got another Vikings comrade,” said Matthews. Although Maynor was born in North Carolina, he and Matthews share a love for the Minnesota Vikings.
Maynor also has a link with Vanterpool, who worked as a pro scout for the Thunder from 2010-2012 before joining Stotts’ staff this past season.
“Vanterpool was in Oklahoma (with me), and I played with Wes in Utah,” Maynor said. “I think that will be an easy transition for me. Just being in the locker room, with Wes being one of their main guys. I know him real well, so it’s cool.”