Bolstering the Bench on the Road to the Three-Peat

Hate him or love him, Matt Barnes is now a Laker.

But let me tell you Laker fans something, there’s always room for forgiveness. I bet most of us remember Barnes for trying to fake Kobe out with an inbound pass. To be honest, to this very day I do not know HOW Kobe did NOT flinch at that! Other than that incident with Kobe, Barnes also has been in previous occurrence with a few other NBA players.

As for basketball fans, Matt Barnes can be easily be labeled as a “dirty” player. That stigma on Barnes should be changed once he puts on that Laker uniform. It’s simple to say that Barnes wants a ring. Now.

May 08, 2010 - Atlanta, GEORGIA, UNITED STATES - epa02149244 Orlando Magic forward Matt Barnes (L) steals the ball away from Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith in the first half of Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinal round NBA playoff basketball game at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, USA on 08 May 2010.

The true journeyman has gone through 7 different NBA teams in 8 seasons. The former UCLA Bruin settled a contract with the Lakers for a 2 year deal which will pay him $3.6 million total. He had his best year two seasons ago playing for the Phoenix Suns. I know some Laker fans are disappointed that the team didn’t get Raja Bell, but Barnes was a smarter and all-around better move for LA. Barnes is the tough guy the Lakers need.

Since there’s a chance Luke Walton might miss the whole season due to a back injury, Barnes will be filling in his minutes. He’ll also play behind Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest to provide the defense, three-point threat, and energy off the bench.

Barnes will bring the scrappy, hustle plays for the Lakers. For Los Angeles to fill their bench with viable players is significant to make a run at a three-peat next season. Matt brings the versatility to the bench and brings the adrenaline energy off the bench. For his role in the Lakers, he’ll pretty much be a “Ron Artest” in light mode. His field goal percentage throughout his career has been solid at 44%, with a three-point percentage at 33%.

It seems as if anyone who signs with the Lakers suddenly changes their bad habits. Artest is an example of someone who has thrown his thuggish actions out the window to focus on winning for the Lakers. Though Ron Ron was close to landing a punch on David West last season, he held back at the last second realizing what it could cost him.

I don’t know what it is, either the city life, history of the franchise, or playing with arguably the best player and coach in the game; Laker players always seem professional. I believe Phil Jackson is the biggest asset to keeping everyone on the roster on the same page and a mind set to win. Once Barnes plays under Jackson’s brilliant coaching and the flow of the offense, Matt will fit with the team.

Next: Theo Ratliff

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