In his nine year career, Matt Barnes has suited up for eight different teams. Take from that what you will, as another season ends in disappointment for the Lakers, and Barnes becomes a free agent yet again. At the age of 32, stripped of his athleticism and ability to act as a versatile two-way presence, Barnes’ offensive duties in recent years have been limited to that of a spot up shooter. He stretches the floor by standing in the corner and receiving passes from his team’s more capable on-ball play makers, but relative to the league’s better fits in this specific role, Barnes didn’t do a great job.
Barnes started the season slow—shooting 25.5 percent from behind the arc before the All-Star break—but turned it up later on, knocking down 37.2 percent of his three-pointers in the month of April. Battling an ankle injury in the playoffs, Barnes was more stationary than normal, and wasn’t able to take advantage of his idle play by knocking down open shots from beyond the arc (Barnes shot 16.1 percent from down town in 11 playoff games, and was benched for Game 5 of the second round).
In his exit interview last week, Barnes said where he chose to sign in recent years was mostly based on his pursuit of a championship. That decision making process could change this off season, as the Lakers don't appear to be a championship contending team given their current makeup. Also, if Barnes is in search of a high bidder, his current team likely won't be it.
“The last few teams I’ve went to, it was in search of a ring, and have fallen short. I’ve always turned down a significant amount of money to do that. So that’s something we’ll have to sit down and see."
With averages of 7.8 PPG and 5.5 RPG this season, there will probably be a suitor or two out there who believes Barnes can add depth and a little bit of toughness to its bench, but as has been the primary theme throughout his career, anything more than a one-year deal is unlikely. He can still play, but the role needs to be a limited one.
In July 2010, the Lakers decided to use their mid-level exception on Barnes with a two-year, $3.6MM contract. In a way, his poor play down the stretched symbolized the team’s need to become more athletic, and if the they take him back for anything more than the league minimum it would be a serious surprise.