Artest to Step Up in Barnes’ Absence

When the Lakers signed Matt Barnes to a contract over the summer, it was assumed that he wouldn’t play anywhere near close to the 26 minutes per game he had averaged with Orlando the previous season, or be as integral a part on the squad as he had been for any of the other 11 teams he had played for over the course of nine years.

Forty games into the season, Barnes is averaging 7.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 20.8 minutes per game for the Lakers. It’s safe to say that he’s one of the, if not the best player in terms of value on the dollar.

With his production, clearly the Lakers are getting a hefty return for their $1.7 million dollar per year investment.

That production was put to a halt after tweaking his knee last Friday during a game against the Hornets. Barnes underwent surgery Tuesday to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee and will be out approximately eight weeks. It’s safe to say the timetable given is the minimum amount of time Barnes will be out, unless he makes a speedy recover ala Jordan Farmar, who was able to come back from the same type of surgery a month earlier than expected.

Aside from what you can gather from Barnes’ stat line, his defensive presence is among the more relentless and energetic in the league, he may not be lock-down per say, but his hustle and eagerness on defense have most definitely changed the complexion of the bench. Barnes has had to scrap to be relevant in the league and his game mimics that plight in a way. That never ending fight has left him with an edge—just what the Lakers needed coming off the bench.

Next: More minutes for Kobe? That can’t be good.

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