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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. raphael - Jul 23, 2010 at 10:32 AM

    Lakers hater, our bench was horrible last season, let’s see about this season, what makes Miami the best team cuz of unloyal LBFake hate him and now even more since he proved how wacky he is….

  2. Aron - Jul 23, 2010 at 10:35 AM

    They’re going to trade or move Odom and Walton, and maybe a draft pick to get another big player.

  3. maxie - Jul 23, 2010 at 10:40 AM

    Wasn’t Matt Barnes the guy who pretended to throw an inbounds ball in Kobe’s face? It seems like Kobe gains more respect for guys who go after him: Artest, Raja Bell, now Matt Barnes. Apparently, Steve Blake once didn’t back down from a Kobe elbow, also gaining his respect. Interesting. . .

  4. maxie - Jul 23, 2010 at 10:41 AM

    Wasn’t Matt Barnes the guy who pretended to throw an inbounds ball in Kobe’s face? It seems like Kobe gains more respect for guys who go after him: Artest, Raja Bell, now Matt Barnes. Apparently, Steve Blake once didn’t back down from a Kobe elbow, also gaining his respect. Interesting. . .

  5. Young MaCk - Jul 23, 2010 at 10:45 AM

    You say Boston only had one center the lakers center had a torn knee so it was even and it was a good game I don’t understand why “Lakers Haters” can’t keep it real it was a real good game lakers bench was sorry come on you know buy the lakers making these off season moves they are a way “better team” one of the best starting 5 now we have a bench. Just think on it!!! Good move Lake Show!!!!

  6. Kevin - Jul 23, 2010 at 10:46 AM

    Steve Blake will come in and be a step up at the one from Fisher? He’s a decent backup point guard at best, Fisher has proven time and again to be a clutch player when it matters most. Mr. Helin, you had a nice article going until that statement, now I’m lumping you in with the majority of sports writers that ask hard hitting questions like “How did you feel when you made the winning play”

  7. Rjay - Jul 23, 2010 at 10:48 AM

    I love the way everyone is already making Miami the team to beat, yes Lebron is great and so is Wade, but don’t forget the Lakers have proven what they can do and yes they went seven games with the Celtics but they accomplish their mission with a team that is also great the Celtics one whom Miami will face.. It will not be an easy road to the championship just because they got Lebron, you still have competition on the east, before you move west. The Lakers is a much better team than they were when Miami won the championship last so be careful what you wish for and I hope your boy lives up to the Hype.

  8. Mark - Jul 23, 2010 at 10:51 AM

    i like it when people say the Lakers BARELY won or ALMOST lost. Really! If you ALMOST went out with the prettiest girl, does that count? NO! you’re still single and drooling. Now if you BARELY won the girl because you drool less than the other guy, then you still won the girl. understand?? there is no consolation prizes in sports. it is either you win or lose.

  9. Tony - Jul 23, 2010 at 11:03 AM

    Yes sir the great Kobe,shot 6 for 24 in the final’s against an old team like Boston who could hardly move in the 4th quater.Dream on!

  10. 8ntSureBet - Jul 23, 2010 at 11:09 AM

    The Lakers and the Celtics got to the finals because their coaches are the top in the league at understanding and motivating players. Van Gundy in Orlando is also a terrific coach. Miami won’t make their self-appointed / annoited championship round and ring in my opinion. (Will Riley pull the plug on his coach whathisname?–I don’t even know–but still expect the Lakers will come through.)

  11. dustybkrdodgr - Jul 23, 2010 at 11:15 AM

    “Barnes is not a good a defender as his reputation, he shot only 32 percent from three last season.”
    My god, this is a terribly-constructed sentence. Editor!

  12. SFWA - Jul 23, 2010 at 11:18 AM

    Anyone that says Blake and Barnes aren’t going to make The Lake Show better…NOT being honest. Both have started in the NBA and both have solid skills at their positions. Barnes is an excellent athlete and won’t back down to anyone! It’s actually pretty ironic that both Ron Ron and Barnes defended Kobe better than most plus matched his trash talking…THEN they join up with him. Looks like a 3-peat. Who’s gonna take em out from the East?

  13. Dynasty4Life - Jul 23, 2010 at 11:32 AM

    They only suck until it is happening to your team. Then you’re singing a different tune praying it never ends. Don’t hate just because your favorite franchise sucks.

  14. Bob - Jul 23, 2010 at 11:33 AM

    Yawn. Talk to me once they do something. Wade was handed a title at the free throw line, LeBron was 0-7 in Cleveland. They will be good, yes. But there is a reason why the same 5 or 6 teams pass the title around from decade to decade. Because the league is full of stars, but only a few have that championship winning mentality.

  15. Carl - Jul 23, 2010 at 11:34 AM

    Important point: Bynum was playing hurt during the finals! I hated to see Perkins go down.
    But the with last year’s playoffs Kobe consistently hacked and played through it; 2. Officiating was the worst I have witnessed for the entire playoffs especially in the finals.
    The argument that Lakers were not Kobe’s team for the first 3 championships is stupid. Without him Shaq doesn’t win one. Shaq got there before Kobe did, I do believe and he could not bring one home with the guys they had. And one more very important fact, the last 2 rings Shaq got Kobe lead in stats even though he did not get MVP honors. And we all need to admit Kobe did not run Shaq out of LA, Shaq ran Shaq out!!!
    The Lakers will continue to win championships because Kobe, Pau, and Derrick, understand their system so well. I disagree with getting rid of Walton, he sees the floor better than some of the starters and looks to pass first shoot second. I would like for some of those guys to see 3 or 4 passes ahead that would make their offense unstoppable!!

  16. Omnius - Jul 23, 2010 at 11:38 AM

    Great to see another UCLA player come home to play with the Repeat World Champion Lakers. Glad Fisher has come back and that Steve Blake will hopefully be better than Farmar backing up Fisher. Fish needs to play less minutes during the regular season in order to be fresh for his normal playioff brilliance. Hopefully Barnes can spell Kobe and Artest more so they can rest more during the regular season. Good to see Odom getting some much needed bench support so the Laker’s bench isn’t always being slammed for being soft. Anyway the Lakers will whip the Three Losers of the Heatstroke if Miami even makes it to the NBA Finals!

  17. JoJo is Smiling - Jul 23, 2010 at 11:41 AM

    Imagine that, a player who does not want to play in Cleveland even for more money. I wonder Why? Could it be no chance for a ring and a NO CLASS 2FACED OWNER!

  18. NickLA - Jul 23, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    Just take a look at the lakers upgrade.
    instead of Farmar, they have Blake- a huge backup point guard improvement. He is just as good as Fisher or better.
    instead of Mbenga, they have Ratliff, going from nothing to defence.
    instead of Brown, they’ll have Barnes (another better defense).
    Barnes may be sub par at times, but that’s why Phil gets paid the big bucks to use players in the right situations and get the best out of them.
    The whole thing with Miami is a hype. Chris Bosh will have nothing going against a healthy Bynum. Who does Miami have to contend against Gasol ? No one. I’ll take Kobe over Wade any day. The only strength Miami has is with Labron. Artest can limit him up to a certain degree, but Mitch Kupchak is very smart. He has 2 solid rookie forwards lined up to contest Labron.
    But who are we kidding. Miami is all hype for now. Boston is the real deal, and they are far from being done. It will take Miami a few years to develop Boston’s style of defense.
    This league is won by big men with heart, not guards.
    Lakers and Celtics finals again !

  19. Kdog75 - Jul 23, 2010 at 12:15 PM

    Yeah right, be afraid of the noted choker LeBron? Please. The only title they have ever won was over a choking Mavs team. And they do not have the stone-faced killer Kobe for the end of games. The Laker nation has noted what Laker cast-off Riles has done, but is not sweating it, trust me.

  20. richard - Jul 23, 2010 at 12:18 PM

    miami as super players but the lakers got better
    they really did.all lakers have to do now is make sure each player know their roll and they will be in the payoff for a record fifth
    time in six years.i pick them to win it all again next year.

  21. edgy - Jul 23, 2010 at 12:19 PM

    Not getting any younger? This from a guy who’s talking about a Big 3 that will be 33, 34 and 35 while Kobe will be turning 32. Ok, so Boston’s center was out but if Bynum had been fully healthy, the Lakers would have done a hell of a lot better as well. I like most of the pickups that the Lakers got but I think that it may be at the expense of Brown. That being said, Adam Morrison just took up roster space and what they picked up this year should find its way onto a stats sheet for other than “DNP – Coach’s Decision.”

  22. jblakers42 - Jul 23, 2010 at 12:25 PM

    omg……..we gone be a BEEEAAAASSTT next year
    we just signed MATT BARNES from ORLANDO and 15 year vet THEO RATLIFF to back up BYNUM at center
    RATLIFF rebounds and block shots
    our defense will be downright scary from all over the court….
    the paint, the wing, the perimeter, ARTEST, BARNES, BYNUM, GASOL, ODOM, RATLIFF, and KOBE lockin down on D….
    this offseason was about improving our bench and we have definitely met that match and then some…..
    now when the starters leave the game, our bench can sustain or even build on leads………
    and BYNUM, I think he’s going to emerge on defense and become that force in the paint that will shut down all penatration through the lane
    so MIAMI, D-WADE, LEBRON, BOSH, get some of this heat we are about to unleash on you (no pun intended)
    KOBE will get ring #6, tying him w/alpha and omega (JORDAN)
    and I’m gonna be at that parade representing as a lifelong laker fan since JAMES WORTHY was drafted back in 1983

  23. ElGatoGrande - Jul 23, 2010 at 12:30 PM

    Funny,last season ,Lakers fans have to put up with the c r a p form Boston and Cleveland fans;this year we welcome the south beach Yankees to the conversation ;the bandwagon jumpers and the haters they are all welcome to the three-peat and just a word for Heat fans ,congrats on adding Bosh to ur team ,as far as LeQuit,the jury is still out,he may throw a tantrum if Wade doesn’t pose for “the picture”

  24. edgy - Jul 23, 2010 at 12:42 PM

    For almost all of his career, Russell had it made. The winner of the East/West got a bye into the next round and essentially played two rounds for a championship. They got time to lick their wounds and heal and the distance that they had to travel was so short that they would often take a train and even swap home games every other game. 14 games maximum vs 28 today and it would be easy to see that the three peat is as impressive as the 8 in a row that the Celtics did. The maximum went to 19/21 for later in his career but still, not the same as 28.

  25. JD - Jul 23, 2010 at 12:44 PM

    Child please.

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