BARNES CLEARED, HOPES TO PLAY SOON
PLAYA VISTA – Wearing a pair of clear protective goggles, Matt Barnes participated in his first on-court activity with the Clippers in a month at Wednesday’s shootaround.
“I’ve been cleared,” Barnes said. “I haven’t really got a chance to practice, so I don’t know how much I’ll play, but I’m cleared.”
Barnes suffered a retinal tear in his left eye on Nov. 18 when he was inadvertently hit by Zach Randolph as the two chased down a loose ball. He has been sidelined since.
Three eye surgeries, headaches and a month of waiting behind him, Barnes is anxious to get back, even if that means wearing goggles for a couple of weeks.
“I hate them,” Barnes said of the eye-wear. “I just don’t like anything on my face, so it will be something to work through, but anything to get back on the court.”
It’s been a challenging opening two months for the 33-year-old forward, who has averaged 5.9 points and 4.3 rebounds in just eight games. He was sidelined by a calf injury that cost him seven preseason games and missed time with a thigh contusion after being kneed by Houston’s Greg Smith on Nov. 4. Four games after returning from that, he sustained the eye injury.
“With four weeks off it will take a little bit of game running and game moving to get the feel back,” Barnes said. “My body feels good. Luckily, I was talking with [Jasen Powell] this morning that will all of the nagging stuff I had, having a month off let everything heal.”
Barnes said he is unsure if, or how much, he will play Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans, but he stuck around well after shootaround to go through plays with newcomer Stephen Jackson, injured guard Maalik Wayns (knee), Ryan Hollins and Darren Collison.
Jamal Crawford, who was visiting with the media, while Barnes was working out, thought Barnes looked good.
“The thing about Matt is he’s always in shape,” Crawford said. “No matter how much time he misses or long he’s been out his wind is always there. And the goggles don’t look like they affect his shot too much. They look a little funny but other than that he’s making shots.”
If Barnes is able to play, it strengthens a reserve unit that has shown steady improvement over the last five weeks. The addition of Jackson, who previously played with Barnes in Golden State, gives the Clippers two forwards who can guard multiple positions and play alongside each other. For now, it’s about both of them getting assimilated or in Barnes’ case re-assimilated.
“It’s just good to be back,” he said. “I’ve been out of the mix for almost four weeks now.”