Friday, July 20, 2012

Two part debate with Chat Sports writer Chris Fields: Should the Lakers re-sign Matt Barnes?

We recently participated in a friendly two part debate about the future of Los Angeles Laker Matt Barnes. The following guest post is by Chat writer Chris Fields. He argues that L.A. should not re-sign Barnes and we argue to keep him.

Part I - Should the Lakers re-sign Matt Barnes?

The Lakers are going into the 2012-2013 season thinking Championship or bust.

Luxury tax be damned, the Lake Show is gearing up for maybe Kobe Bryant's last run.

GM Mitch Kupchak made big moves by inking Steve Nash and Antawn Jamison to deals and could still land the grand prize of Dwight Howard.

Part of the Lakers run for the championship could be Matt Barnes.

The 6'7 small forward's deal is up and the Lakers have yet to make a decision on his future with the team.

Even though the Lakers are trying to add as many pieces as possible, Barnes shouldn't be a part of the puzzle.

There are several reasons why the Lakers should let Barnes go.

Most importantly, he isn't that good. Barnes has put up semi-average numbers during his two years with the Lakers, but nothing irreplaceable. At best, Barnes has been a below average offense player and a solid defender. He averaged seven points and five boards per game over the last two years, while shooting 45% from the field.

Not has Barnes been average, but the Lakers now have better options at his position. The signing of forward Antawn Jamison has made Barnes expendable. Jamison, though old, is still a much better option off the bench than Barnes. Jamison is more versatile, a better rebounder and a comparable shooter. Plus, he has a lot better of an attitude than Barnes. In addition to Jamison, Devin Ebanks shows potential as an athletic small forward who can come in and provide energy off the bench.

The Lakers should let Barnes go in order to open up another roster spot. Barnes doesn't need to be eating up salary, costing the Lakers luxury tax and not producing. The Lakers could use Barnes' spot to sign a three point threat. With Steve Nash running the show, Kobe drawing attention and Pau and Bynum getting doubled in the post, the Lakers desperately need another shooter. Steve Blake is a solid spot up shooter, but can't play the wing position. The Lakers need a guy who can step in at the small forward and knock down threes. A player who can spot up and play the forward position will be much more valuable to the Lakers than Barnes.

For these reasons, the Lakers should part ways with Matt Barnes.

Written by: Chris Fields @ Chat

Here is our argument to keep Barnes with the purple and gold.

Part II - Barnes and no bull

Where in the world is Matt Barnes these days? He’s gotten no love from the media Gods and for the most part the presses have been inked up for the unraveling of the Howard prophecy.

What about those eager remaining top unrestricted free agents roaming around like AMC walkers? Barnes, Landry and even Raja Bell are noteworthy right? Remember those days when Kobe flew in a chopper to sweep Bell off his feet for dinner and a Lakers contract? What about when Kobe dunked on Landry with his left hand and um, well I guess Kobe’s massive dunk has nothing to do with the free agency but still fun to watch…

So where does Kupchak’s off season antics leave Matt Barnes and the Lakers? Well, evidently absent or hopefully tardy for fan’s sake. Listen, for me personally Matt Barnes was not easily accepted when the Lakers acquired him two seasons ago. It took me a while to get over that Orlando game where he failed miserably in his attempts to get into Kobe’s head but hey that’s all water under the bridge now.

Barnes is a slashing threat and showed movement when teammates were anchored by Kobe offense. His toughness was needed especially when World Peace was downed by Artest. Having the option of either starting Matt or Metta was a constant debate but an absolute luxury for the team. Metta was stupid tough while Matt was strategically tough. Let’s look deeper into the comparison from last season's numbers.

Matt was the team’s third best rebounder bringing down 344, Metta 218. Matt was the better shooter - 45% FG / 33% 3PT / 74% FT, Metta 39% FG / 30% 3PT / 62% FT. Matt showed more movement offensively than the two and consequently found himself at the charity stripe the most at that position. Who was the better defender? Well it all depends on how you look at it. Matt blocked more shots (48 - 3rd team best) but Metta, tied with Kobe had a team high 69 steals. Metta was the better Nash having dished the rock for 140 assists, Matt had 126.

Regardless of any stat I come up with, new Laker Jamison will most likely kill any hope of Barnes returning to the purple and gold, similar to Nash’s arrival and Sessions departure. Jamison plays both forward positions and pretty much eliminates the need for Barnes. If you look at Matt’s NBA career, the longest he’s stayed with any team was two years so it only makes logical sense that he moves on.

Photo credits: Getty Images

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