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Lakers sign Matt Barnes. While you were watching Miami, the champs got better.

Jul 23, 2010, 12:33 AM EDT

Thumbnail image for Barnes_ref.jpgThe Lakers are two time defending NBA champions. And when they tip off next season, they will have improved. Chew on that for a second, Miami.

The Lakers got better at the wing by signing Matt Barnes on Thursday night. The Lakers could offer only $1.7 million this year, next year it would be $1.9 million but Barnes will have an opt out.

Barnes turned down more money, a reported $3.5 million a year for three years from Cleveland. He certainly would have gotten more playing time. But if Barnes was not going to play for a contender, he wanted even more money.

Barnes is coming home — he went to UCLA in college, where he may have been a better wide receiver than a basketball player. Maybe not, but it was pretty close.

The Lakers will now bring Barnes off the bench on the wing, spelling Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant, giving the Lakers some toughness and defense off the bench. Barnes is not a good a defender as his reputation, he shot only 32 percent from three last season. But he plays within himself, can attack the rim, get out and run and makes good decisions.

He also fits with the Lakers theme of versatility. They like guys who can play multiple positions, allowing them to create a host of matchup problems. Barnes can play the two or the three. He is long and athletic.

If the Lakers had a weakness last season, it was that their bench was Lamar Odom and a prayer. Now Steve Blake will come in and be a step up at the one from Fisher, and Barnes can come in at the wing, while Odom will be the four. Basically, the Lakers are eight deep with really good players, plus they have Luke Walton and Sasha Vujacic.

The Lakers are better. That is scary for the league.

148 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. jeremiah919 - Jul 23, 2010 at 12:43 AM

    What does Barnes help them win by 7 points? Lets play the games first, the Lakers were so good they almost lost in game seven to the aging Big 3.

  2. Putting the Heat on the Lakers - Jul 23, 2010 at 12:48 AM

    Wow, they sign Matt Barnes, a solid defender and overrated 3pt shooter. Good job, but would’ve been better if they hadn’t been snubbed by Raja Bell. Oh yeah, signing 37 year-old Theo Ratliff solidifies that front line too, huh. It amazes me that with every move the Lakers make, there is a comment about the HEAT. Looks like there are a lot of fans sweating this team, right? Yeah, be afraid. BE VERY AFRAID!!!

  3. luffy - Jul 23, 2010 at 12:53 AM

    Nope, Lakers doesn’t need points, they got Kobe and Pau already, I think it’s the defense that got better. Next year it’s gonna be Lakers-Celtics again and of course, Lakers will win in 6 games…

  4. Blaze - Jul 23, 2010 at 1:12 AM

    Its funny every article is a subtle jab at the heat….Matt barnes didnt do jack squat for the magic boston series so now all of a sudden him signing with the lakers spells TROUBLE. For real?? Thats about as scary as them signing theo….Matt Barnes is a good pick up but you guys are reaching. Boston was one center and a quarter of a quarter away from putting away the lakers….Kobe isnt getting any younger so you guys keep rooting for kobe and keep villifying lebron and we’ll see whats what in th finals.

  5. BMAN - Jul 23, 2010 at 1:14 AM

    Go buy your Lebron James jersey and jump on your bandwagon. I’m sure you were always sporting Miami Heat gear though, right? Highly unlikely.

  6. Laker4Life - Jul 23, 2010 at 1:18 AM

    If they won by a half of point, it’s still a win. ALMOST only counts when you are playing horseshoes.

  7. Laker4Life - Jul 23, 2010 at 1:23 AM

    One center away…..If Bynum was healthy the whole series there wouldn’t have been a game 7 or 6!!!!

  8. Kurt - Jul 23, 2010 at 1:24 AM

    Kurt – PLEASE stop writing. Reading your work is like taking blunt nails, super heating them, and gauging them forcefully through my retinas.

  9. Laker4Life - Jul 23, 2010 at 1:26 AM

    One center away…..If Bynum was healthy the whole series there wouldn’t have been a game 7 or 6!!!!

  10. GMAN - Jul 23, 2010 at 1:28 AM

    Ring it up in 2011

  11. Nancy - Jul 23, 2010 at 1:39 AM

    Right… and which team was it again that did better?

  12. Anonymous - Jul 23, 2010 at 1:43 AM

    Proudly supporting the Miami Heat since DWADE entered the league. Don’t need a Lebron jersey my DWADE works just fine thanks. Care to try again?

  13. LAKER FAN - Jul 23, 2010 at 1:50 AM

    Another guy full of tattoos! Another reason the NBA is less and less a family sport and more and more a ghetto sport!! It is harder and harder to tell the kids to sit down and watch BB when all you see is a bunch of guys not looking “professionals” but instead looking “gang members”…

  14. Albert R - Jul 23, 2010 at 1:53 AM

    Hmm….the Lakers almost lost to Boston? True, but isn’t this the same Boston team that kicked the living crap out of Cleveland and Orlando in the East playoffs?
    Barnes didn’t have a great series against the Celtics? Who did for the Magic?
    He had a solid year.
    The Lakers will hopefully have a healthy Andrew Bynum for the entire year. This is the same Bynum that the Lakers would not trade for Chris Bosh. Bynum has more upside.
    Blake will give the Lakers a huge upside as their second point guard. He is far better than anyone they had last year (including Fisher, who will still start).
    Kobe when healthy did not look old this year. When he was banged up he did. It will be nice to have a better bench to give him a few more minutes rest.
    That will certainly be the case next year.
    The Lakers have gotten a lot stronger in the offseason.

  15. Whatevahfugitaboutit - Jul 23, 2010 at 1:59 AM

    I smell a threepeat repeat… Get real, the Heat won’t make it out of the Eastern finals. BTW, is gauging anything like gouging?

  16. Mond - Jul 23, 2010 at 2:30 AM

    Let’s stop about who’s the best and what could happen. Let’s all wait till next season starts and then we can all start to brag as to who is really the best especially after the finals. The Celtics yes they were better in ’08 but the Lakers did not have Ariza and Bynum. They say ’10 could have been different if Perkins played in game 7. I don’t think so because the celtics were able to score bec of Wallace in early part of the game. If Perkins was there who would have scored? It all depends on who’s playing and how the match up were done. The Lakers definitely was best during the last 2 years and this year looks also promising. As to Miami, we have not started to see them play still so who knows how they will play. My gut feel is that next season is the last hurrah for Lakers vs Celtics (current players)…And my bet is Lakers in 6..Go Lakers..

  17. James G - Jul 23, 2010 at 2:55 AM

    Step aside Jerry West. The General Manager of the Lakers is walking here. Thank you Mitch for answering the cry of all Lakers fan wanting
    a better bench.Matt Barnes will be a pleasant surprise next year. Theo
    will fit better then DJ. He had his chance to improve his game with Kareem but blew it. I hope you like it at the Congo. Josh Powell is gone. That’s great. I always felt he never had the ability improve his skills. Not a smart player at all.Good luck Hawks.As for Farmar.
    Hope you like it on the bench again. In case you didn’t know, D Harris
    is the starting PG. Hope you enjoyed the 2 rings with the Lakers since
    you will never see another one again. Walton needs to give it up and word is that he maybe gone sooner then he thinks. Sasha better get his game together or this will be his last year with the Lakers.
    Bring it Heat…

  18. NRESQ - Jul 23, 2010 at 2:59 AM

    Here’s a guy who knows of what he speaks. The Lakers aren’t looking for front line players; they have looked for role players, and they got two VERY SOLID role players in Blake and now Barnes. The Lakers are built for the playoffs, i.e. the regular season is to try to get home court for as many series’ as possible, but the matchup problems Phil and his brain trust can create in a 7 game series is what wins championships. The Lakers have stuck to their plan to build around their core group ‘Big 4′. And done so within a budget. If D-Fish had passed on the Lakers deal they would have let him walk in a heartbeat. Everyone understands the money deal. The fact that the organization was able to convince a guy like Barnes to pass up a 3 year deal at $3.5M per for essentially a 1 year deal at $1.5 is a testament to how scary this organization is. The Yankees of the NBA. Looking good for a 4th Trifecta for Phil and then a well deserved ride into the sunset with every ‘Best Coach in History’ accolade ringing in his ears.

  19. Dave - Jul 23, 2010 at 3:12 AM

    true

  20. Dave - Jul 23, 2010 at 3:18 AM

    true

  21. Dave - Jul 23, 2010 at 3:23 AM

    true

  22. Sal - Jul 23, 2010 at 3:24 AM

    Who’s gonna stop the Lakers? Who in the NBA has two athletic 7 footers other than LA? Anyone? I know that if it was a race horse I give to the heat, maybe. Last I check size matters ( that’s what she said!) in the paint to block shots and get rebounds. Yes the Lakers did get better; Blake will make a huge difference steering the ship until we need Fish in the playoffs. I agree with Mond, quit getting your G string on a twist. I as a lakers fan, am enjoying the Summer with Championship Champagne in my lips; and this high is gonna last until opening night and the Champs get their ring. In terms of LeBron quit bashing him already. Is true the way he left was totally wrong; But he did honor his contract. Come on now, the dude is trying to win multiple championships and his best shot is in Miami.

  23. Da Realist - Jul 23, 2010 at 3:49 AM

    Vujacic, Walton, Farmar, Mbenga, Powell and Brown don’t even deserve to be in the NBA. The Lakers won the title with a horrible second unit. It is my hope that Brown is not brought back and that Walton retires. I think we have to wait this next season out for Vujacic though. After that, all the garbage is gone.
    There are a lot of Laker haters out there. You have to take a look at the talent of their second team now. Odom, Blake, and Barnes could start elsewhere. If Ratliff adds any defense and stays healthy, the Lakers have improved quite a bit this summer. They are 8 quality players deep and after this upcoming season can improve even further using next year’s MLE. This team is set to win titles for the next 3 years.

  24. binary - Jul 23, 2010 at 4:17 AM

    An aging big 3 that made it to the finals after defeating dwayne wayde lebron and dwight.

  25. Philthy - Jul 23, 2010 at 4:26 AM

    Da Realist , well said man. Lakers go 8 deep right now. Heat don’t even go 5 deep.

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