Matt Barnes backs Derek Fisher
It has been a busy 24 hours for the National Basketball Players Association, in the wake of published reports questioning the relationship between executive director Billy Hunter and president Derek Fisher, including a FoxSports.com report doubting Fisher's loyalty to the union's membership.
Lakers forward Matt Barnes isn't buying allegations of impropriety. Speaking on a podcast to Andy and Brian Kamenetzky of ESPNLosAngeles.com, Barnes stood by his elected representative and teammate.
"I've known [Fisher] for a number of years, and his character is second to none in my eyes. So what he does, I know it's for the good of us," he said. "It's almost like he's the president of the country. He's the president of the Player's Association, so all our faith lies in him and I fully trust what he's doing is for us, and for us to get to play again."
Still, Barnes acknowledged the variety of opinions inside the union on important issues related to reaching a new collective bargaining agreement.
"It's a tough situation. You always have to look out for yourself and your family, so a lot of guys from what I've been hearing, and whispers, a lot of guys think 50/50 [as a split of Basketball Related Income] is good, and let's get back to work. But I've been consistently talking to Fish, and some of the other guys on the board, and we think it's important to stay together and push for that 52," Barnes said. "We're pretty close, hopefully we can get that and get moving. But you can't really knock anybody for a move they may have to make for their family, or a move they may have to make for themselves, because financially, this is really our only income."
While he's disappointed the NBA has officially wiped every game through the end of November, the lockout has provided a silver lining for Barnes, who missed 26 games last season following surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee. The extra time to heal has served him well, and he considers himself about "90 percent" healthy.
"I'm back completely playing, full speed ahead," he said. "This last 10 percent and just getting over the fact that I've never had an injury before. My knee is healed but in my mind it's still kind of that I need to baby it."
Barnes has dropped about 15 pounds off his 2010-11 playing weight, leaving him at 215 pounds, in hopes of lessening the stress on the joint.
As for the Lakers, he hopes a shortened season will serve them well, though the devil is in the details.
"I think it's great for us, as long as they don't pile on tons of games. Everyone knows we're a little older team, and we can use less games. As long as we don't have to play five games in seven nights, that wouldn't be very beneficial. But as long as we can come to a smart amount of games and still have the proper time to rest in between games, I think it's going to be very beneficial for our team to cut 20 games off the season," Barnes said.
Until the NBA gets going, Barnes will continue working out and playing charity games, including his own Saturday in San Jose. Having used similar events throughout the offseason to help test his knee, Barnes has found one more positive: consequence free referee abuse.
Barnes has racked up multiple technical fouls throughout the summer's exhibitions and suspects he'll get another one this weekend.
"If I get a chance to yell at a ref who makes a bad call and not have to pay $2500 or $5000 [in fines to the NBA], I'm going to do it all day," Barnes laughed. "These free technicals, I'm going to kind of enjoy until I can't do it anymore."