Matt Barnes had some of the best years of his career as a Clipper from 2013-2015, eventually becoming the team’s starting small forward as he proved himself capable of hitting threes at a respectable rate and playing tough, gritty defense.
When the Clippers traded him following the 2015 playoffs, it was sad, but it made sense: Barnes was 35 years old and coming into the final year of his deal. While Lance Stephenson didn’t end up panning out for the Clippers, he provided the Clippers with a potential long-term upgrade, and allowed the team to get out from under Spencer Hawes’ deal.
It has certainly seemed like the Clippers chose the right time to move on from Barnes, too. He struggled in Memphis last year, but still got a two-year, $12.5 million deal from Sacramento this summer, and has struggled this season as a King. He was reportedly set to meet with the Clippers regarding their mid-level exception before the team decided to use it to re-sign Wesley Johnson instead.
Now, however, the Clippers have an opportunity to add Barnes at a much lower price tag—a rest-of-season minimum deal. Last night, reporters on twitter broke the news that the Kings had agreed to a blockbuster deal, practically giving DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans for pennies on the dollar. As the dust settled, it became apparent that Sacramento would have to waive one of their current players to facilitate this trade. It was widely speculated that Barnes would be chosen, but now it’s decided:
The Kings are expected to waive Matt Barnes to make the necessary roster room to complete the DeMarcus Cousins trade, league sources say— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 20, 2017
Despite his struggles, Barnes and the Clippers seem like an obvious buyout-season match. L.A. has been interested in small forward around the league in trade talks, and while Barnes isn’t an alternative to Carmelo Anthony, Danilo Gallinari, or Wilson Chandler, he does a reasonable P.J. Tucker impression. The Clippers have searched for an upgraded combo forward off of the bench with Wesley Johnson struggling, and Barnes’ physical, defensive style gives them another option. Furthermore, if the team does make a big move for one of the aforementioned big-time wings, Barnes has some positional versatility on the wing and at both forward positions as the Clippers build their new rotation.