On Tuesday afternoon, seventh-year swingman Matt Barnes was officially introduced as the Los Angeles Lakers' latest free agent acquisition—another one of the many magician-like moves general manager Mitch Kupchak has pulled out of his hat; this one of the discounted two-year, $3.6 million variety.
The signing of Barnes cements L.A.'s last major crack on its relatively new-look roster, a roster that is expected to have as few as five new names on it when training camp commences in late September.
What's more, is it supplements the team's defensive-minded, tough-guy mentality, which allowed the Lakers to capture their second NBA championship in as many seasons just last month.
Barnes's ability to play both the shooting guard and small forward positions will alleviate the heavy load of minutes that Kobe Bryant has carried throughout his 14-year career.
The aging Ron Artest will also benefit from longer breathers, especially if he continues to pursue a secondary career in rapping.
More specifically, Barnes is a dogged defender who can space the floor and drain the deep ball—in other words, the triangle-friendly type that gives Phil Jackson yet another weapon to use in his already deep arsenal.
Sounds like one of those "We met on eHarmony.com and couldn't be happier" commercials, right?
Not so fast.
For all that Barnes brings to the Lakers potluck, his mere presence at the party could very well shut it down altogether.
During L.A.'s only regular-season visit to Orlando last season, Bryant and Barnes got entangled time and again, trading elbows like they were stocks and sending stares like they were part of an unlimited text-messaging plan.
In his postgame press conference Bryant laughed off Barnes's in-game behavior, calling it "entertaining."
Lamar Odom, however, wasn't as lighthearted about the back-and-forth business, saying, "[Barnes] was an action figure today. He was really involved and really into the game. It's too bad we are not going to see him again [in the regular season]."
Odom added that Barnes was a "monkey," paving the way for Barnes's Twitter response which read, "Morning yall up early w/ the babies watchn Dora. Seems Lamar can't keep my name out his mouth maby I need 2 put my sons [expletive] diaper n it [sic]."
The last time I checked, friends don't put diapers in each other's mouths. Perhaps times have changed.
Odom reacted by asserting, "That [expletive] that Matt Barnes pulled, that ain't never going to happen again."
Then last Saturday, L.O. was asked if the trash has been emptied with regard to the bad blood between Barnes and his new basketball buddies. On the surface both parties appear to have put the pish posh behind them.
"He's a teammate now," Odom said at the USA Basketball training camp in Las Vegas. "That was an on-the-court issue and he has a Lakers jersey on now, so it will be no big thing."
But as the interview progressed, he didn't sound all that accepting of his new teammate.
Referring to the void that will likely need to be filled from the absence of Luke Walton—whose ailing back could conceivably sideline him for the entire 2010-11 season—Odom admitted, "Maybe the addition of Matt Barnes helped out a little bit."
Odom and Barnes on the same bench is going to be like Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston in the same house.
Still, they say winning cures everything. Luckily for the Lakers, they won't need any magic to make W's appear come October.
You can contact Josh Hoffman at JHoffMedia@gmail.com .
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