Why Matt Barnes Signing Ensures L.A. Clippers Keep Their Edge

Oren FriedmanCorrespondent IISeptember 18, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 14:  Matt Barnes #9 of the Los Angeles Lakers is called for a technical foul during the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on January 14, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

With the return of Matt Barnes to the Los Angeles Clippers, LAC has managed to keep its mental and physical edge in light of the likely loss of bruiser Kenyon Martin.

Barnes is notorious in the NBA for his relentlessness.

Whether its off-hand comments or hard fouls, Barnes is one of the few players in the league that can help his team achieve the type of mental and physical edge necessary to take advantage of its less headstrong opponents.

Here is how Matt Barnes will impact Lob City.


At 6'7" and 226 pounds, Barnes is far from a physically imposing NBA player.

While his lankiness does help him keep up with more athletic wings, his match-ups are typically won between the ears.

Barnes makes a living playing suffocating defense and getting inside his opponents' head.

Throughout his career, Barnes' reluctance to back down from a challenge has earned him the respect of some of the league's fiercest competitors. 

Prior to joining the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 2010, Barnes and guard Kobe Bryant routinely got into it when the LA played Barnes' Orlando Magic.

One incident saw multiple jawing and cheap shots, resulting in double technicals.

On that note, Barnes' harnessed aggression often leads to multiple T's.

The UCLA product has finished in the top 20 in technical fouls in three of the last four seasons. Overall, he has earned 44 technical fouls in his 10-year career.

While consistent technical fouls on the same player can be destructive to a locker room environment, they can also play a role in energizing a team.

More times than not, Barnes' technical fouls are a reflection of his desire to win more than they are some sort of indication that he is disengaged.

Coaches understand this when they decide to play Barnes, and know that the T's and the physicality come with the territory.

These back-and-forths between Barnes and players like Bryant make him a sought-after player come free agency.

Similar to when Bryant helped recruit Barnes two summers ago, it was Chris Paul that made the pitch this time around.

Despite previous altercations with the Clippers, including a blatant shove of Blake Griffin in a preseason game, Lob City needed another hard-nosed defender on the wing.

In commenting on his return to LAC and his relationship with Griffin, Barnes said all the right things (via LATimes.com):

I just kind of explained to him that it was no disrespect to him or his game, Barnes said. I think he’s one of the best players in the league and arguably the most athletic player. I play basketball hard-nosed and if you’re not on my team, during that 48 minutes we’re enemies. He appreciated it and understood where I was coming from.

To compensate for the likely loss of Kenyon Martin, the Clippers needed a player of similar grit and determination.

Physical and Psychological Contributions

A team that has continually fought the culture of "Flop City," the Clippers will utilize Barnes on both a physical and psychological level.

As a seasoned veteran, Barnes will prove invaluable for budding young guns like Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan.

His toughness should permeate the rest of the roster, much like Martin's did in the Clips' seven game slugfest against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Put Barnes alongside the durable Grant Hill and "Tough Juice" Caron Butler, and the Clippers have one of the deepest wing rosters in the league.

The Clippers are steadily adding more versatile and aggressive players that can excel on both offense and defense.

Ultimately, Barnes is one of those players like Tony Allen: one that every team hates to play against but would love to play with.

From LeBron James to Kevin Durant, Barnes relishes the opportunity to check up the best in the business.

If he gets beat to the hoop, the offensive player will usually hit the deck before he can get a clear look at the basket.

For Lob City, Barnes is a refreshing solution to the type of hand-check and ticky-tacky foul system that has started to characterize professional basketball.

On a more fundamental level, he is something of a Detroit Pistons Bad Boy.

That sort of toughness will prove to be crucial for the Clippers this season. Look for Barnes to galvanize his teammates with his grit and help them play at an elevated level in his second stint with LAC.


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