Matt Barnes looking for a payday in free agency after career-best season with the Clippers

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Throughout his 10-year NBA career, Matt Barnes has always been more of an agitator than an asset.

There’s a reason Barnes has played for nine different teams during that span, and had never been able to secure a long-term deal at any time when given multiple chances at free agency.

Besides his underwhelming numbers, Barnes has a well-deserved reputation as a hothead and borderline dirty player who has let his emotions get the better of him more than once to the detriment of his team.

Barnes wasn’t without issue this past season with the Clippers, and was suspended in early February for this shot he delivered to the Timberwolves’ Greg Stiemsma. But overall, Barnes played the best basketball of his career, and was an important part of the Clippers finishing the regular season with a franchise-best 56 wins.

Once again, Barnes finds himself in the land of unrestricted free agency. And while he’d like to return to the Clippers next season, he’s going to look for a payday above all else.

From Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles:

“I’m going to sit down and talk to my family and see where the market’s at,” Barnes said. “I’ve been one of those guys the last three or four years that’s always been a great bargain. I’ve played for the mid-level and have played well but have yet to see a pay day. Not to say that I’m asking for the world, but I’m definitely looking for a salary increase.”

“I had a great season with the Clippers and my family is very comfortable here in L.A.,” Barnes said. “So the Clippers are going to be one of my top choices, but we’re looking for a pay increase.”

Barnes has career earnings in the neighborhood of $12.5 million (via Basketball Reference), which is low for a 10-year NBA veteran. If he can get a multi-year deal on the open market after having his best and most impactful season as a professional, it would be hard to see him passing it up.

Barnes averaged a career best 10.3 points, to go along with 4.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 25.7 minutes per game for the Clippers this season. He also had a monster performance in L.A.’s last game of the season, pouring in 30 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in his team’s Game 6 loss to the Grizzlies.

Russell Westbrook has beef with Joel Embiid after hard foul (VIDEO)

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Russell Westbrook is always looking for something — real or imagined — to use as motivational fuel.

He found something real Saturday in Joel Embiid.

With 1:46 left in a close game on national television, Westbrook was off to the races in transition with just Embiid back and the result was a hard foul.

Westbrook was pissed after the game thinking this was not just a hard foul (warning, NSFW language):

Embiid essentially shrugged.

The actual foul was hard but a bit of a fluke. Embiid went up to block the layup/dunk but Westbrook lost his dribble for a second, and the result was an airborne Embiid crashing into Westbrook. Hard. Was there a little bit extra in there? Depends on if you’re on Team Westbrook or Team Embiid.

But the NBA could use more feuds, so bring it on.

The Thunder went on to beat the 76ers on a Paul George game-winner.

Celtics’ Marcus Smart goes after Hawks’ Deandre Bembry, gets ejected

Associated Press
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Marcus Smart will be lucky if all he has to do is write a check to the league office. This is the kind of thing that can lead to a suspension.

Midway through the third quarter in Atlanta Saturday, Boston’s Smart picked up his second technical foul jawing with Atlanta’s DeAndre Bembry before a jump ball. That got him ejected. But it was when it charged back after Bembry rather than leaving the floor that the real trouble started.

Predicting the league office on fines/suspensions is like predicting a roulette table, but that looks like it could cost Smart a game. Smart had picked up his earlier technical arguing calls.

Boston came from behind to win Saturday in Atlanta, with Kyrie Irving leading the way scoring 32.

Bucks to retire jersey Marcus Johnson’s number

via NBA.com
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Marcus Johnson is a Milwaukee legend. He averaged 21 points a game in his seven seasons with the Bucks and is sixth on the all-time franchise list in points (10,980), is its all-time leader in offensive rebounds (1,468), is third in total rebounds (3,923), and made 4,546 during his time in Milwaukee. He is now a color commenter for the team.

Now, the team is going to retire his No. 8.

The ceremony will be March 24, a story broken by the Journal-Sentinel.

Johnson will be the ninth Bucks player to have his number retired and the first since the team’s move to its new home Fiserv Forum.

Current Bucks legend Giannis Antetokounmpo told the Journal-Sentinel he was happy. Antetokounmpo turned to Johnson at points for help with footwork, post moves, and more.

“I’m really happy for him, I think he deserves to have his jersey retired,” Antetokounmpo said. “It’s amazing. He’s just sitting down there like a normal person, but this guy was one of the best players in the league when he was playing. … He’s a legend.”

Johnson won an NCAA national championship at UCLA under the legendary John Wooden before going on to an NBA career that included five All-Star appearances and three All-NBA teams.

Paul George hits game winner, lifts Thunder past 76ers 117-115

Associated Press
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Paul George converted a four-point play with 5.1 seconds left, sending Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder to a wild 117-115 victory over Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.

George’s clutch shot capped a wild finish that included another memorable exchange with Westbrook and Embiid. Westbrook hit the floor out of bounds under the basket after a foul by Embiid late in the game, and Westbrook fouled out with 14.9 seconds remaining after he got Embiid while shooting a 3-pointer.

Embiid made all three foul shots, tying it at 113, and Jimmy Butler‘s driving layup put Philadelphia in front with 6.9 seconds to go. But George drained a 3 while being fouled by Butler and made the foul shot.

Philadelphia had one last chance, but Butler missed a 3-point attempt in the final seconds. The 76ers have lost 19 in a row to the Thunder.

George finished with 31 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals. Westbrook had 21 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for Oklahoma City, and reserve Dennis Schroder also scored 21 points.

The Thunder had dropped five of six, including a 138-128 overtime loss against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.

Embiid, who was a game-time decision because of back tightness, had 31 points, eight rebounds and six assists. JJ Redick scored 22 points for Philadelphia, and Ben Simmons finished with 20 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists.

Oklahoma City led by as many as 16 points in the first quarter, but Philadelphia rallied in the second and trailed 59-56 at the break.