“I had a great season with the Clippers and my family is very comfortable here in L.A.,” Barnes said. “So the Clippers are going to be one of my top choices, but we’re looking for a pay increase.”
via Clippers Report – ESPN LA
Looking back on the 2012-13 season, the real Los Angeles Clippers “Sixth Man of the Year” was Matt Barnes. Sure Jamal Crawford was third on the team in scoring and provides the flashy crossovers that the casual NBA fan raves about, but when Barnes was locked-in this was a better team.
Now walking into free agency after a career year (10.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 15.5 PER) seeking a higher price tag than usual entering his 11th career in the NBA, it’ll be wise if the front office can re-sign Barnes before he hits the open market. What he brings to a team, his 3-shooting, defense and attitude, sometime detrimental to the team, is a huge need especially with the increase of quality wing players in the league.
Going into this off-season, the Clippers have two small forwards: Caron Butler and Grant Hill. It’s unclear whether Hill will be returning to the club, possibly opting for retirement or a front-office job with the Phoenix Suns, but even during the season he rarely escaped the bench. And while Butler is a serviceable player he can’t give this team everything they want and need from the 3-spot. That’s where Barnes comes in. He isn’t the best scorer nor is he an elite 3-shooter (34 percent this season, 33 percent for career), but his floor-stretching and rebounding go a long ways into helping this team develop a step further as they’re trying to go from first-round exit to elite in the leap of one year. And the toughness matters or at least it does to me. The Clippers held a different tone when Reggie Evans and Kenyon Martin were on the floor last season. Often called soft this year due to their history as floppers (mainly Chris Paul and Blake Griffin), Barnes brings what Evans/Martin brought. And if the man isn’t afraid of Zach Randolph coming at him full strut then he’s tough enough.
The biggest problem in giving Matt Barnes a contract is his age. At 33, the Clippers can’t invest too much into Barnes. They don’t want to face a similar situation the New York Knicks are in currently, but a 3-year deal that’s front-loaded could be enough to bring him back. The most Barnes has made in his career in a single season was $3 million in 2007-08 when he was a member of the Golden State Warriors and has made close to $13 million throughout his career.
If he prices himself out of your range then there is nothing Los Angeles could do, but promising him a bigger role to stay in the city that his family resides in and showing that you want his services could go along way.