Matt Barnes to opt-out, become a free agent

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Mbarnes.jpgMatt Barnes had a rough conference finals, as he was asked to chase around Paul Pierce and Ray Allen with a sore back, but all in all he had a fairly successful season as a role player for the Magic. So much so that Barnes himself apparently thinks he’ll be able to make more than the $1.6 million he’s ready to leave n the table by opting out of his current contract to become a free agent.

From Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

“As for me and my contract situation, I’m going to opt out,” Barnes told reporters gathered at RDV Sportsplex this morning. …”I’ve expressed
throughout the season that I’ve loved my time here and would love to
return. But I think more than anybody that this is a business. The
organization has to do what’s best for the team. Hopefully, I impressed
them enough to bring me back and give me something decent, but we’ll
have to wait and see about that.”

Even if the six games against the Celtics didn’t make Barnes look
particularly good on either the offensive or defensive end, he’s still sure to draw interest from teams looking to add low-maintenance, complementary talent. The guy is more than just an “intangibles” guy even if his impact doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. He’s a very solid perimeter defender that moves without the ball and can space the floor, three traits which make him an interesting role player.

Orlando will likely make an effort to keep him, but from the sound of things it seems like Barnes’ decision will come down to the money. Tough to blame him, as he’s hardly locked in for huge, mega-deals for the rest of his career and his biggest payday yet was a $3 million, one-year deal from the Warriors in ’07-’08. We’ll have to wait and see whether or not the Magic will give Barnes the most lucrative offer, but they could definitely use his services next season.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.