"It's actually a bit of a shame that a guy who brings so much to the table in the form of his energy, toughness, athletic ability, handle, passing and scoring skills can also be floating around the league and signed for a sub $2 [million] contract. If you simply compared skill inventories with a wing like Trevor Ariza there would be no contest but here's Barnes' problem. Discipline."
Click after the jump for the full transcript.
It's a cliche question, at this point, but could you delve a little bit into the type of player Matt Barnes was for the Phoenix Suns and what Orlando Magic fans should expect from him in the upcoming season?
Matt is a guy that you will love to have on your team until you hate something he does which happens at least once a game. He started out the season winning a ton of fans in Phoenix for his hard nose, athletic play but by the end of the season no one was sad to see him go. No one.
It's actually a bit of a shame that a guy who brings so much to the table in the form of his energy, toughness, athletic ability, handle, passing and scoring skills can also be floating around the league and signed for a sub $2 [million] contract. If you simply compared skill inventories with a wing like Trevor Ariza there would be no contest but here's Barnes' problem. Discipline.
Matt Barnes is about as undisciplined basketball player as you will see at the NBA level. He constantly takes bad shots and passes up the easy and obvious play to try and make something special happen. He's got the raw talent to make enough of those great plays that the Phoenix fans at first were willing to forgive the occasional mistakes but over time you realize just how poor his decision making skills really are.
And all of that was playing in one of the more open and shot friendly systems in the league. Playing for the hyper controlling SVG you might be in for some real fireworks. The player friendly and ever lovable Alvin Gentry was constantly yelling at Barnes during games. SVG's head might just shoot right out of his turtleneck if Matt is forced to play significant minutes.
But then he will knock Rafer Alston on his [butt] and you will love him again (until he passes up an obvious entry pass to Howard in favor of jacking up another three despite shooting 23% for the month).
So basically, there's a fairly good chance that he will be complete disaster in Orlando but it is also possible that SVG can work his magic and turn Matt into a better system player then we've ever seen from him. It should be noted that I have the exact same thoughts about Vince Carter.
Given that Barnes has played on small ball, up-tempo teams like the Suns and Golden State Warriors, previously, his position has varied. It appears, looking at the numbers, that Matt is best served at small forward. Do you agree or disagree?
There's no question that Matt's natural position is at small forward. When Amare went down in late Feburary Matt was forced to play big minutes at the power forward. It was a disaster. He simply does not have the size or consistent energy to play in the post.
If his minutes are limited however and the matchups are right then it can be a nice twist if used sparingly. On the flip side his handle and passing is good enough that if he's on a hot shooting streak (and he's as streaky as they come) then you can play him at the shooting guard in a big line up. Again though, I would consider both options good only for limited use to throw a wrinkle into the game but Matt certainly is veratile enough to pull it off for short stretches. Any consistent minutes outside of the SF and he will be seriously exposed. In fact any serious minutes at all will expose him.
Likewise, looking at Barnes' splits last season, he appeared to be much more effective when he was starting than when he was coming off the bench. What are your thoughts on the type of role that maximizes Matt's productivity?
The Suns' season was such a disaster last year that stats are pretty much meaningless. To start the season, Matt was starting mainly so Grant Hill could provide his veteran presense off the bench. That didn't work because Hill wasn't able to adjust so they switched and for the bulk of the season Barnes backed up Hill. Despite what the stats might say, that was clearly the best situation for the Suns.
How will Barnes' personality mesh with the Magic? What type of guy is he? You stated to me previously that he's more than happy to talk in front of a mic.
I can't really answer that since I don't know the Magic that well. Matt is a soft spoken guy off the court but as I said, he doesn't shy away from the mic. I think he fancies himself somekind of Reggie Miller type. I don't know. His reputation for being a hot head on the court is well deserved and my biggest concern for him in Orlando would be how handles a lesser role than he had in Phoenix. He certainly doesn't lack for confidence and if he's not getting enough playing time he could become disgruntled and probably wouldn't keep that to himself.
I am not exactly sure who the leaders are on the Magic team but don't expect Barnes to fill that role. Oh, and he now has two baby feet tattoo'ed on his neck to represent his twins who were born last year. I personally would have gone with a picture in my locker but hey, Matt walks to the beat of his own ink gun.
'PhoenixStan' was kind enough to provide Matt Barnes' exit interview at the end of the season, as well.
I asked Matt the difference between the "We Believe" Warriors team that was able to come from behind and make the playoffs while this team wasn't able to do that. Matt couldn't say what was different between those two teams.
As for his chances of coming back, Matt says that he wants to come back but the front office has to decide. He also said that the (Porter) coaching change was not a good fit for this team and that he would like to see the same group come back.
Matt conceded that he needs to improve his outside shooting and get more consistent. He explored going through a shot rebuild process this summer to help solve his up's and down's. I asked Matt about shooting his way out of slumps and he said that he had a couple of mental breakdowns in regards to shooting. He also talked about the impact of banging with bigger power forwards and how that might have effected his shooting.
I asked Barnes which city had better fans - Phoenix or Oakland. No comment.
I like to thank 'PhoenixStan' for taking the time to answer my questions and for providing the exit interview.