The Memphis Grizzlies are set to host Derek Fisher's New York Knicks on Saturday night at FedEx Forum, but the clash will represent more than an intriguing cross-conference showdown.
Rather, the game will serve as the backdrop for the first meeting between Fisher and Grizzlies swingman Matt Barnes since the two were reportedly involved in a physical confrontation last October, stemming from the coach's relationship with Barnes' estranged wife, per Ian Mohr of the New York Post (h/t Shams Charania and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports).
While Barnes recently finished serving a two-game suspension for his role in the altercation, he made it clear he's lost respect for his former Los Angeles Lakers teammate. In fact, Barnes plans to avoid Fisher all together Saturday night.
"I don’t talk to snakes," Barnes told the New York Daily News' Stefan Bondy.
However, Barnes didn't discount the possibility of the two meeting once his career comes to an end.
"I know I got to keep my mouth shut because then he’ll run and tell," Barnes said, per Bondy. "So we’re focused on playing that team (the Knicks). And when I’m retired, him and I will cross paths again."
On Saturday, Barnes told reporters, "Every man who looks at the situation knows what’s right and wrong. Violence is never the answer, but sometimes it is.”
"Don’t try to shake my hand," he continued. "There’s none of that. There’s nothing there. There never will be. Just stay away."
Barnes told reporters Fisher hasn't responded to him "because he knows he’s wrong. And he already took one loss (in the fight). So what’s the point."
Bondy added that Barnes is seeking to recoup the salary he lost as a result of the suspension—a total that equates to roughly $64,000, according to Wojnarowski.
Although the Grizzlies sputtered to start the season, they've rebounded nicely over the past few weeks and occupy the Western Conference's No. 6 seed. Dating back to Dec. 27, the Grizzlies are 6-3 over their past nine games.
Barnes, especially, has come alive in January to the tune of 12.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game on identical splits of 47.6 percent shooting from the field and from three.
Matched up against a Knicks team that boasts robust wing scorers in Carmelo Anthony and Arron Afflalo, Barnes will need to lock down and play the tight defense he's become renowned for while providing some supplementary scoring.
With a victory against Fisher surely on Barnes' mind, look for the Grizzlies to feed off his energy in what amounts to a statement game for the feisty swingman.
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