The inexperienced Los Angeles Clippers are in uncharted territory after winning their first ever division title, but veteran forward Matt Barnes could be a key component to their playoff run.
Barnes has been in this position before after making the playoffs with the Golden State Warriors, Orlando Magic and most recently Los Angeles Lakers. He’s been on both sides of the fence, as a member of the underdog with the Warriors to one of the front runners with the Lakers.
Now with the upstart Clippers, a young team still dealing with maturity issues and growing pains, a veteran like Barnes could either make or break their playoff run. Barnes’ fiery personality sometimes ignites the team, or Barnes’ attitude can have an adverse effect on the game when he gets technical fouls while arguing with the refs or when he gets an ill-advised flagrant foul.
Barnes has indeed played well as a reserve for the Clippers this season and is averaging 10.2 points and 4.5 rebounds while also contributing solid perimeter defense. But Barnes will need to better manage his emotions on such a young and impressionable team.
The Clippers signed Barnes to only a one-year deal to see if he could bring a veteran presence to the now-competitive team. With the Clippers trying to work through some minor chemistry issues approaching the playoffs, they will need everyone on the same page over the final weeks of the season. Barnes needs to be more of a leader and less of a head case at this point in the season.