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Wes Matthews' Achilles tear comes at the worst possible time for everyone

It's terrible luck that Matthews will miss the rest of the season, both for himself, the Blazers and the NBA.

No win, even the Blazers' convincing 94-75 victory against the Mavericks on Thursday, is worth losing a key player for the season. Any joy in Portland was immediately replaced with dismay when it was announced Wesley Matthews suffered a torn Achilles and will miss the remainder of the year.

It wasn't even a contact play -- not that that would make the injury any easier to stomach. Matthews simply leaped for a pass, planted his foot in anticipation of bursting towards the basket and then collapsed. He was helped off the floor and news of his injury came out very soon after the game. It's the worst case scenario for a soon-to-be unrestricted free agent and terrible news for the title-aspiring Trail Blazers, who have already dealt with injuries to Robin Lopez and LaMarcus Aldridge this season.

There's hope for Portland to salvage this season and Matthews to continue having a successful career, but it looks bleak for both parties.

How does this affect the Blazers?

The trade deadline deal for Arron Afllalo has suddenly turned from a nice insurance move bolstering the bench to a desperately-needed transaction for Portland to survive.

Matthews was averaging 34 minutes and 16 points on 45 percent shooting and 39 percent from three-point range this season. Afflalo's numbers were down some in Denver this season, but he averaged 35 minutes and 18 points last year in Orlando on 46 percent shooting and 42 percent 3-point shooting. He's the natural fit to step into Matthews' starting role.

You can't expect him to completely replace him, though, not when he's still trying to learn a new system and adjust to his Portland teammates. Afflalo was brought in to help the bench and now that becomes problematic for Portland again.

The defense is about the same, but Portland's offense falls from 105.9 points per 100 possessions when Matthews is playing to 101.3 when he's not. The Blazers have plenty of 3-point shooting of the bench, but lack a consistent scorer. They'll have to hope scorer by committee works, but Blazer's Edge writes that doesn't bode well for Portland's hope of making a deep playoff run.

Blazers fans have every right to be worried. They thought these questions were answered, or at least close. Now those questions are right back up in the air again with the final exam just around the corner. Unless the team rallies quickly around each other, it's a good bet that opposing coaches will be looking to exploit cracks in the lineup come playoff time. No amount of mixing and matching will erase them entirely...at least not over the course of four, 7-game series. Portland's deep-playoff dreams got dimmer last night.

How does this affect Wes Matthews?

This year's free agency was Matthews' chance to earn one more long-term contract. Because he spent four years at Marquette, he's already 28 after entering the league in 2009. He's made about $33 million in Portland, but he could have earned more than double with his new contract this summer, and deservedly so.

Instead, he'll spend the summer recovering and could miss extended time next year, depending on the severity of the tendon damage. The Achilles is thicker and stronger than any other tendon in the body, so recovering from a damaged one is a grueling process. Dominique Wilkins came back successfully from an Achilles rupture in 1992, but the past decade is littered with more depressing scenarios. Kobe Bryant's 2013 tear that led to a litany of other ailments comes to mind. Elton Brand was never the same after his 2007 tear. Isiah Thomas ended his career after tearing his.

Matthews could potentially sign a one-year contract with Portland as he works his way back, hopefully returning sometime in 2016 and proving his health isn't a concern leading into that summer's free agency bonanza, where the salary cap is expected to rise to above $90 million. But if Portland isn't willing or able, his options are slim. Teams are going to be cautious about spending lavishly on a player that just suffered a serious injury and may miss significant portions of next season.

Injuries are always terrible. Having one at this point of Matthews' career only makes it worse.

How is this fair?

It isn't. Matthews' injury is another in a long string in devastating injuries in the NBA this season.

We've seen Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, Kawhi Leonard, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Eric Gordon, Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, DeMar DeRozan, Anderson Varejao, Bradley Beal, Rajon Rondo, Kemba Walker, Tiago Splitter, Jrue Holiday and Ricky Rubio all miss significant stretches. Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Brandon Jennings are all out for the year. Paul George is on the verge of returning from his horrific injury last summer. The second, third, fourth, sixth, seventh, ninth and 11th picks in last year's NBA Draft have been hurt at some point this season. Two are out for the season after playing a combined 26 games: No. 2 Jabari Parker with a torn ACL and No. 7 Julius Randle with a broken leg.

Perhaps this NBA season is cursed, or perhaps the speed and athleticism of the game moving even faster than our medical advances. Matthews played 39 minutes on Wednesday in a tight game in Los Angeles. A back-to-back can't be directly blamed for this injury, but it certainly couldn't have helped. This is especially noteworthy because Matthews told reporters his Achilles had been hurting all season.

"Yeah, [the Achilles has been bothering me]," he said. "But I take care of it, do the massages, do the pregame stuff, do everything that I'm doing. I don't know if it has anything to do with that or just some fluke stuff."

Just look at that list of names above, which doesn't include minor dings or the growing trend of resting older players to keep them fresh. Adam Silver has said he wants to eventually eliminate back-to-backs in the sport. This season is incentive to push for that sooner than later.

Injuries are part of every sport, but they've just about taken the NBA hostage this year. It's a testament to the strength of the league that this season has been as entertaining as always. Just imagine how much more fun we'd be having if half of those guys were still playing.