Matt Barnes to decide today
Barnes said yesterday that he’ll announce his decision at some point today.
He posted the following message to his Twitter account yesterday afternoon: “2maro is the day. I will let my fans know where I’m going to sign. Its gonna SURPRISE you!!!! Keep it locked.”
Barnes, 30, has played for seven teams during his seven-year career and was initially looking for a long-term deal after opting out of his contract after the season with the Magic. He had stated publicly in recent weeks that his first preference would be to return to Orlando, but that is now a practical impossibility with Magic general manager Otis Smith’s decision to match Chicago’s 3-year, $19 million offer sheet to guard J.J. Reddick. Orlando’s team payroll now exceeds $90 million.
Boston and Miami are the alleged favorites for his services, with Dallas and Los Angeles also in the mix. The Mavericks could offer Barnes up to a full mid-level exception contract; the Lakers could offer a contract starting at $1.8 million; the Celtics and Heat could offer minimum salary contracts.
The Heat could certainly utilize Barnes’ skill set. Barnes is a scrappy, experienced combo forward who has found a home in the NBA thanks to the aggressive mentality he brings to the floor. He is lockdown perimeter defender capable of manning the two, three and four positions. He’s also evolved into an underappreciated but effective scorer from in close, who could provide an alternative source of scoring for the second unit. While he has the reputation for being a three-point shooting threat, his conversion rate has never been spectacular. Last season, he shot just 31.9% from distance.
The addition of Barnes along with the possible signing of three-point specialist James Jones would shore up the team’s need for depth at the small forward spot, and allow Pat Riley to focus on areas of greater need.
Barnes averaged 8.8 points and 5.5 rebounds in 26 minutes of action for the Magic last season, starting 58 games.