One of the most difficult situations that head coach Mike D’Antoni had to deal with this season was finding capable wings to give Kobe Bryant a breather for any given stretch in a game. This became increasingly more difficult as the season progressed and the injuries began to pile up. Bryant ultimately went down with a ruptured Achilles tendon during a game that, had there been another capable body, Kobe would have been able to get some rest.
This morning, during ESPN 710’s radio show, Matt Barnes spoke about Chris Paul potentially returning to the Lakers and why he didn’t return as a Laker for this past season, according to ESPN’s Arash Markazi.
“From what I heard after it ended, Mike Brown didn’t want me back,” Barnes said. “However true that is but that was from a pretty reliable source that I talked to throughout the year. That was the deciding factor. Mike Brown wanted to go in a different direction and give some of the younger guys a try.”
Barnes also mentioned in the interview that he enjoyed his time with the Lakers and would have liked to go back to the team. If what Barnes is saying is true, the Lakers would have had another wing who would have been great for D’Antoni’s system and another wing defender to help keep perimeter players from getting in the paint and forcing rotations from both Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.
While it’s hard to imagine the Lakers having a much better year with Barnes on the team, we definitely know that the extra depth on the perimeter would have helped considering Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Ron Artest and Kobe all went down with injuries at one point or another.
While we don’t know what the beef was between Barnes and Brown, we do know that it hindered this team from having the depth it greatly needed down the stretch of the season and into the playoffs.