By STEVEN VAUGHAN, 750 THE GAME
With free agency starting on July 1st, the Trail Blazers made a move on Wednesday.
The Blazers extended the qualifying offer to Matisse Thybulle, making him a restricted free agent.
But what does that mean for the Trail Blazers regarding the direction of the franchise?
By making Thybulle a restricted free agent, the Trail Blazers are allowing him to go out in the NBA market and get any contract that he can get. Thybulle can sign the contract and once he does, the Trail Blazers have two days to determine if they would like to match the offer sheet and give Thybulle that same contract.
To me, this means that the Trail Blazers are invested in the 26 year old. Thybulle has had an up and down career so far with the Philadelphia 76ers and the Trail Blazers. But at his peak, he was voted on the All-NBA 2nd team defense in back to back to years. For reference, the Trail Blazers haven’t had a player on first or second team defense since 2003-04 when center Theo Ratliff made the second team.
The Blazers want to see what Thybulle can get on the open market. And at that point, if/when Thybulle signs a offer sheet the Trail Blazers will know exactly what the market is for the wing. If the Blazers decide the contract is to rich, they will pivot and look elsewhere. If they like the contract they will match and Thybulle will be in Rip City next season.
From what I’ve heard, the Trail Blazers really like what Thybulle can bring to the Trail Blazers and would like to keep him. They consider him a key piece to the bench which has struggled in recent seasons. Even though he is not a good offensive player, the Blazers love what he can do on the defensive end. It’s something they have not had for a while and would like to keep him.
It doesn’t signal a direction of rebuild or reload for the Trail Blazers. It signals that Thybulle is a guy who Chauncey Billups likes and trusts enough to be on the team. Chauncey has made it clear that he wants more talent on the team, and he wants guys that fit his system.
The Blazers have until Thursday to extend an offer to fellow reserve guard Cam Reddish, but by announcing Thybulle and not Reddish, it doesn’t seem likely that Reddish will be back in a Blazers uniform next season. This likely means the franchise has decided they like Thybulle over Reddish.
Next step is seeing what Thybulle gets on the open market and if the Trail Blazers match whatever contract he gets. I believe Thybulle will be back in Rip City next season, and no matter if the Blazers are rebuilding or reloading, Thybulle fits in with both strategies.