As part of our look ahead at the Lakers' projected roster next season, we continue to work our way from the bottom to the top of the rotation. Next up...Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty Images
Barnes' willingness to scrap with Kobe helped get him a gig with the Lakers.
Role For The Lakers in 2010-2011
The Lakers spent last season without a designated backup for Ron Artest. Luke Walton was mostly shelved. Adam Morrison was out of the rotation. Sasha Vujacic was often injured and/or out of the rotation, not to mention undersized. Thus, the responsibility primarily fell on Kobe Bryant. The difference this upcoming campaign should be pretty striking. Barnes is as good a backup small forward as the league offers, not to mention a bargain at under two mil.
He also happens to possess several qualities that could mesh well in the Lakers' quest for a Three-peat.
Barnes is known mostly as a defensive presence (or irritant, depending who you ask). I wouldn't quite describe his prowess as "lockdown," but he's among the more relentless and enthusiastic in the league. And his ability to help the D isn't just a matter of checking opponents. Barnes holds his own against any small forward in the league on the glass. Rebounding is an underrated aspect of defense, and as we learned during the Finals, a key to securing the O'Brien trophy. Between Barnes and Lamar Odom, many a loose ball should fall the Lakers' way when the second unit takes the floor.
While appearing Saturday with us on ESPNLA.com On-Air, Barnes talked about studying game film over the summer to familiarize himself with the famously complicated-for-newbies triangle offense. Good stuff, and I enjoyed even more the unsolicited -- and warranted -- mention of an ability to play off the ball. The triangle isn't just predicated on ball movement. People movement is also necessary, and this skill set should help Barnes fit into the system despite his being somewhat turnover prone, and not quite the three-point shooter he sometimes fancies himself.
Still, there are concerns, as I first mentioned when Barnes and the Lakers agreed to terms. Barnes says he's fine with whatever minutes are thrown his way, and while he seems sincere, that's also easier to claim before the games have commenced. I don't anticipate Barnes playing close to the 26 mpg he logged with Orlando last season, and he's been vocal in the past about wanting to be on the floor. Granted, he willingly signed up knowing Ron-Ron ain't getting bumped, and a shot at a ring is a nice trade off for a few extra minutes on the bench. But I'll be keeping my eye on his mood as the season progresses.
Speaking of mood, Barnes' reputation as an edgy, temperamental player has been well-documented and well deserved. The dustup and ball fake heard 'round the world in Orlando. The 10 technical fouls in 2010, plus another 10 in 2009. (The Lakers have enough guys jawing at the refs as it is.) Intensity swings both ways. It can be an asset or hindrance, and the former Bruin needs to make sure his emotions don't carry negative results.
Best Case Scenario
Barnes fits in like a glove on both sides of the ball, bolstering an improved second unit now legitimately among the league's best and deepest. This success ensures the maximum amount of PT reasonably expected, which in turn allows the same degree of rest for Artest. Barnes' energy remains constant but controlled. His edginess helps reinforce a newer, tougher perception of the Lakers, but never spills into counterproductive behavior. The player who grew up worshiping the Showtime Lakers joins their ranks as a purple and gold champion.
Worst Case Scenario
Barnes catches the team-wide epidemic of "three ball fever," reminding fans Barnes' occasional description as a deep threat is mostly due to his 2007 campaign with the Warriors. Frustration over what feels like a limited role bleeds onto the hardwood. It becomes evident why Barnes is now playing for his eighth team in eight seasons.