Matt Barnes hasn't exactly had an ideal summer, but the unrestricted free agent swingman indicated to TMZ.com that he and his agent are making progress toward an NBA contract. His minutes with the Lakers dwindled in the playoffs this year, and he was arrested for allegedly threatening a police officer who stopped him with a warrant for driving on a suspended license. Days later, Barnes was sued for allegedly rear-ending a car on an L.A. freeway. Still, a return to the Lakers remains a possibility.
"They are one of the teams we're talking to," Barnes said. "There's a couple other teams, so hopefully we'll get this arrest situation out of the way, so I can go ahead and move forward with my career."
The Lakers hold Barnes' Early Bird rights, so even though they're well over the tax apron, they could give him a deal worth as much as $5.276MM next season. It's unlikely he'd get nearly that much, though, and since an Early Bird contract must be for at least two years, the Lakers might be reluctant to give him any more than the minimum, which would require only a one-year commitment. Writing for CBSSports.com, Ben Golliver says the Lakers wouldn't have much room Barnes since they go two-deep at every position, but I think Barnes could beat out Devin Ebanks as the backup small forward, and Dwight Howard's lingering back injury could force coach Mike Brown to do some lineup shuffling that might open up a few more minutes.
There haven't been any legitimate rumors linking Barnes to any other team this offseason, even though some of his numbers from last season suggest the 32-year-old still has a lot left. He averaged 7.8 points and tied a career high with 5.5 rebounds. His PER of 15.5 and rate of 0.8 blocks per game were the best marks of his nine-year career.