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Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Updated: June 1, 10:45 AM ET
Matt Barnes returning to Lakers

By Arash Markazi
ESPNLosAngeles.com

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Lakers forward Matt Barnes exercised his $1.91 million option to stay with the team next season, he announced Tuesday.

"I'll be a Laker next year," Barnes said. "I always knew what I was going to do."

Barnes made the announcement while talking to reporters at the Lakers training facility after Mike Brown was introduced as the team's new head coach. Barnes, who sat alongside the Buss family in the front row during the press conference, was the only player in attendance.

"He's an open minded coach, which is good," Barnes said. "We have a very veteran-driven team and I'm sure guys will have their opinion on this and that but as long as he listens and decides what's best for the team, I think he'll be great."

A torn meniscus in his right knee sidelined Barnes for 26 games between January and March and two more when he experienced irritation in April. In 53 games last season, Barnes averaged 6.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 19.2 minutes per game.

Barnes said his knee doesn't hurt anymore but he is still a month away from running and jumping. He said he will be fully healthy whenever training camp opens. In the meantime, he hasn't been watching any basketball, still stinging from getting swept out of the playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks.

"I'm still sick," Barnes said. "I haven't watched a second of basketball. I haven't watched SportsCenter because I know basketball will be on there. I'm still hurt thinking about it. One, the way we exited and two, me not being able to help."

Arash Markazi is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.