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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. PMART SIRRAH - Jul 23, 2010 at 4:42 AM

    if not for the refs and a 1 game wonder from allen it would have been a five game series.every win boston had was with ref help. you know it ,i know it and boston knows it.lakers beat 8 plyers. what a win.

  2. Young Reezey - Jul 23, 2010 at 5:14 AM

    One word – Idiot! They ALMOST lost? There is no almost … you get a W or lose period. It’s like there is no gray area…understand?? You know… it’s either one or the other, on or off… I’d continue but I’m afraid you still won’t get it.

  3. Malcolm - Jul 23, 2010 at 5:36 AM

    Looks like Kobe will TIE M.J. next season
    Solid move MITCH!!!
    D-fense matters

  4. Anonymous - Jul 23, 2010 at 5:38 AM

    they were good enough to get to the finals, they were good enough to have the number one seed in the west, and those agin big three was good enough to get to tha finals too, so dont try and make it sound like the lakers didnt deserve it, if somebody was better, they would have won it, PERIOD!

  5. olbuzz - Jul 23, 2010 at 5:41 AM

    If Bynum gets and can stay healthy it don’t matter. The kid is a show horse real soon. He’s still got some Pony in em and he has to stay focased. But its coming. Dudes the center piece of the next Gen Lakers. Write it down. Healthy Bynum means the lanes closed till further notice for the entire league. Someone just wasted a bunch a money in the East. James may buy one when Bryant decides its time..Until then its his Planet

  6. Malcolm - Jul 23, 2010 at 5:59 AM

    Looks like Kobe will TIE M.J. next season
    Solid move MITCH!!!
    D-fense matters

  7. Lakers R The Best - Jul 23, 2010 at 6:24 AM

    Come on we can go in circles about who is the best team but at the end of the game its who won and that would be the “LAKERS”. See you next year Celtics.Try try again..

  8. george - Jul 23, 2010 at 6:59 AM

    Definitely, The Lakers are the team to beat. But, who can be proud of that bunch of thugs? It’s sad that a championship can be won because refs look away as elbows inflict pain, forearms do their damage, knees just happen to hit their targets.If refs did their job the more athletic teams would be the winners……..and the game would be fun to watch.

  9. terry - Jul 23, 2010 at 7:00 AM

    I have a dream that the first time the pro basketball team representing the city of Miami visits your nba city next season at least one fan will show up with a (small) air conditioner in tow.
    The theme being, of course,
    beat the heat

  10. terry - Jul 23, 2010 at 7:11 AM

    The Celtics had a 13 point lead in the 3rd quarter of the 7th and deciding game and couldn’t hold it – the Lakers never gave up, kept coming, stayed cool and they won the title fair and square. Kobe had a terrible shooting night but the others, especially Artest, stepped up.
    The Lakers won because they were the best TEAM – it’s over & done with, in the history books, etc., yada-yada-yada.
    FYI – I am NOT a Lakers fan.

  11. terry - Jul 23, 2010 at 7:18 AM

    I just have one more comment and then the dog has to go to day care.
    MJ has 6 rings.
    Kobe has 5 rings.
    6+5 = 11
    Does the name BILL RUSSELL ring any bells out there?

  12. BillRussell?? - Jul 23, 2010 at 7:49 AM

    I seriously doubt Bill Russell can get 11 rings if he plays in this era – Even at his prime. Bill was playing against ‘short’ players who was shooting granny style free-throws. C’mon!!!

  13. Gary0123 - Jul 23, 2010 at 7:55 AM

    I hate the Lakers. I hate dynasties. When will you learn that if you know the outcome of who is going to win the championship…it is boring to watch?
    It’s like knowing the end of a movie before going to the theater.
    I know all of the Laker fans are excited…but for the rest of the small market NBA, it sucks knowing the outcome before the season starts.
    I will say it again…dynasties suck!

  14. Randy - Jul 23, 2010 at 7:55 AM

    Where’s miami’s bench?, nowhere. It doesnt exist. The heat are nothing but hype. Lets say kobe and lebron get injured, whos got the better team. Exactly, keep dreamin, heat fans

  15. hnirobert - Jul 23, 2010 at 7:59 AM

    Yes, Kobe has five rings but he was not the center piece of the first three, unlike MJ who was the centerpiece of all 6. Can we STFU with talking about Kobe like he’s ANYWHERE near MJ? For f’s sake, Robert Horry has 6 rings too!

  16. tejano2k - Jul 23, 2010 at 8:49 AM

    C’mon, now. this is the NBA not your kid’s Little Dribblers teams. Don’t worry, these NBA big boys can handle a little rough play. That’s whay they make the big bucks. As the old saying goes, “Can’t stand the Heat, join the Lakers” or something like that. I’d rather watch a more action-filled game than have to put up with a bunch of ticky-tack fouls being called and the entire game is played at the charity stripe. That goes for my team and any other team. As always…Go Lakers!

  17. CF98 - Jul 23, 2010 at 8:58 AM

    I hate to break it to you but MJ wasn’t the be all and end all of basketball he was great but I never thought he was the GOAT. You could say the same for Kareem etc I mean he too has 6 rings but he’s never in the discussion. Kobe was just as important to that threepeat as Shaq was he wasn’t some scrub.
    And Horry has 7 rings BTW

  18. tejano2k - Jul 23, 2010 at 9:14 AM

    Living in San Antonio, Tx I can tell you that this so-called small market team (Spurs) AND its’ fans don’t mind them being called a dynasty. Of course, that feeling probably fades with time and then festers into anger and despair if your team NEVER wins it all again, or has never had the feeling. It’s a great feeling, large market or small market. Join the legions of Lakers fans across the universe and you too will get “the feeling”. Go, Lakers!

  19. FDJLakers - Jul 23, 2010 at 9:15 AM

    What do you mean, “villifying Lebron” and “rooting for Kobe”? I don’t think anyone on this post does that. Just because Lebron is a jerk and would look better in a curled mustache, and Kobe is the Greatest going for #6 this coming year doesn’t mean the bad guy is being villified.

  20. Basketball fan - Jul 23, 2010 at 9:43 AM

    Barnes and Blake are definitely an upgrade for the Lakers. I can’t believe those Celdick fans are still whinning about the championship playoffs. They are complaining about Perkins but what about Bynum being hurt?
    I was at game 7 and the Celdicks had the game in hand but they choked. They weren’t tough enough. Better for those guys to live in the old glory days of the past. Celdick players are a bunch of aging actresses.

  21. Lou - Jul 23, 2010 at 9:53 AM

    The road to the NBA Championship goes thru LA! Miami is gonna get smashed along the way and not even make it to the finals. And Lebron can call Kobe on his iPhone and say “Congrats man”. Ya the iPhone with no ring!

  22. basketball fan - Jul 23, 2010 at 9:54 AM

    Bottom line is Barnes and Blake help tremendously. We are the repeat champions – period. I am amazed at the continued whinning of the Celdick fans. Yes your center was out but you don’t hear us crying about our center being at 20%. I was at game 7 and the Celdicks choked. They gave everything but they were soft and gave up. The Celdicks are a bunch of aging , whinning actresses who live in the sixties.

  23. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Jul 23, 2010 at 10:01 AM

    I jump with joy! I jump with joy. Let us who swim in the pool of Lakers love all jump with joy together. I love Phil Jackson and will have a physical relationship with him soon, perhaps with Jack Nicholson beside us. In the meantime, I shout a mighty HUZZAH for the Lakers. I shall rub myself with foot cream and dance in the moonlight of a certain to be third victorious campaign. Huzzah, I say!
    There, I have schooled all of you non-believers! You little boys!

  24. Kako - Jul 23, 2010 at 10:19 AM

    I’m not a Laker fan but they are the clear favorite to win it all. Love em or hate em they are the best team right now and that would be if they weren’t the current champs. That’s just how good I think they are. The Heat arn’t going to get it done in their first season.

  25. Laker7 - Jul 23, 2010 at 10:22 AM

    Solid bench for the Lakers.
    Mix in Kobe, Pau or Ron Ron as they 5th player (depending on foul trouble and match ups) and they can hold their own against any other bench in the league. Nice pickups by Mitch.
    PS 2nd round picks Caracter and Ebanks showed promises during the SPL. Look for them to take the 12th and 13th spots on the roster.

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