2013-14 PLAYER CAPSULES: MATT BARNES
Eric Patten, Clippers.com
Over the next few weeks, Clippers.com will take a look back the 2013-14 season for each member of the Clippers’ roster and look forward to the offseason and what may be in store for 2014-15. The second in our series of player capsules is small forward Matt Barnes.
The difference between Barnes' scoring average before and after the trade deadline. He averaged 7.3 points per game in the injury-plagued first three and a half months of the season, but rallied after persistent trade rumors were proven untrue. From Feb. 21 to the end of the regular season, Barnes played all 26 games and averaged 13.7 points per game. He also scored 10-plus points in a career-high 12 straight games in that span.
Wins for the Clippers after Barnes was inserted into the starting lineup on Jan. 20. He started the final 40 games of the season in place of Jared Dudley and helped the Clippers earn a record of 29-11.
Seasons with the Clippers, including his rookie year in 2003-04. Until this season, Barnes had never played more than two years with a single franchise, despite changing teams nine times and playing for eight different organizations.
Talk about two different seasons. Through the first three and a half months, Barnes was saddled with multiple injuries. He sustained a calf injury in the offseason, a bruised thigh in early November and a torn retina that cost him a month from Nov. 18 to the end of December. The injuries and the persistence of trade rumors through February left Barnes struggling in season one of his first multi-year contract. But after the trade deadline passed with a few tense moments on the team’s charter before going to Memphis, Barnes erupted for what was arguably the best two-month stretch of his life. He averaged 13.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and shot 49.1 percent from the field and 37.7 percent from 3-point range. He scored 10 points or more in 20 of 26 games with the Clippers going 18-2.
Barnes took the mantra that he would play every game like it were his last as the 34-year-old posited his days were possible “numbered” in Los Angeles. He also was the most vocal in terms of describing the new “mental toughness” with the Clippers from a season ago and was a major contributor in one of their biggest comebacks scoring 19 points in Phoenix when the Clippers overtook the Suns with a fourth-quarter rally.
The Suns comeback game was a good one for Barnes, but his first trip to Phoenix was sublime. After the Suns jumped out to an 11-point lead in the first, Barnes went off. He made his first four 3-pointers, including dribbling to the left wing after a defensive rebound and firing away. He had a season-high 28 points on 12-of-17 shooting and added six rebounds in a 104-96 win, extending the Clippers’ eventual 11-game winning streak to six.
Barnes, who resides in Los Angeles, will spend the offseason at home. In the past he has played pickup basketball at the Clippers’ training center, including prior to the 2012-13 season when he was recruited by Chris Paul to join the Clippers. The following summer Barnes was an unrestricted free agent but remained with the Clippers with the most lucrative contract of his career. This summer will be all about staying healthy. Last offseason, Barnes injured his calf and was not ready until late in the preseason.