Detroit MLE Dreams: Matt Barnes


Position: Small forward

Height: 6-foot-7

Weight: 226 pounds

Years pro: Eight

Age: 30

What he brings

Matt Barnes doesn’t really fit into pros and cons, so I’m eschewing them in favor of two looks at Barnes.

The first comes from the Best of Daily Dime post Jared Wade compiled for Hardwood Paroxysm:

[Comment From Dan: ]
barnes isnt making shots but I like his energy

Kevin Arnovitz:
Dan: That will be on his tombstone.

The second is this video of Barnes matching up with Kobe Bryant*:



*What Kobe did 2:15 into that video settled the Kobe-LeBron debate for me. It’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen on a basketball court. How do you not flinch?! I’ll never doubt Kobe again. It’s the greatest play of our generation. When Kobe enters the Hall of Fame and his highlights are played, that inbounds attempt should be shown on loop. Seriously, I can’t say enough about how amazing that was.

Those two examples paint a more complete picture Barnes better than I ever could.

But I have concerns because of Barnes’ age.

The Barnes that Orlando had last year is relentless. He wore down opponents physically, but his mental edge was probably more important. It’s intimidating to see an opponent hounding you the entire game without any signs of letting up. That’s why I think Barnes at 99 percent is way less valuable than Barnes at 100 percent.

At 30, he might have too many 99-percent nights.

How he fits

In every tangible way, Barnes is a poor fit.

He plays a position where the Pistons have a reliable veteran (Tayshaun Prince, who doesn’t appear to be traded as quickly as many would like) and three youngsters (Jonas Jerebko, Austin Daye and DaJuan Summers) who can play.

Barnes, 30, is also a little old for a rebuilding team.

But he’s tough as nails.

Barnes drew criticism for his play in that Lakers game, because he acted like he’d never been there before – and for the Magic, maybe that made sense.

But these Pistons haven’t been there before. They need to act like they have something to prove. Games against the league’s top teams will be proving grounds next season. Barnes won’t let the Pistons look lifeless in those games, as they did last year.

Also, as you’ll read about in the next section, Barnes’ cutting ability would be a great complement to Greg Monroe’s passing skills. The Princeton offense is based on cutting, and Barnes could help ease Monroe’s transition to the NBA.

In other words

Eddy Rivera of Magic Basketball evaluated Barnes after season:

And he did things, like cutting to the basket when Howard would be looking to pass the basketball out of the post in 4-out/1-in offensive sets, that helped the Magic. But Barnes’ main weakness, was the fact that he wasn’t, and isn’t, a great spot-up shooter.

At times, it seemed like Barnes was overrated on defense. This doesn’t mean that Barnes was a bad defender, on the contrary, but sometimes everyone would make note of his scuffles with Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, and other great scorers during the regular season and ignore some of his weakness defensively.

For example, Barnes’ poor pick and roll defense sticks out like a sore thumb.

Barnes was a perfect sidekick with the starters and his toughness, more than anything else, was a welcomed addition to a team that is criticized many times for being finesse and soft … except against the Celtics apparently. In any case, there are weaknesses to Barnes’ skill-set that can’t be ignored.

I highly recommend you read Rivera’s post for a complete picture of Barnes.


Barnes probably isn’t worth the full mid-level exception. In this environment, though, that’s what I suspect it would take the Pistons to get him.

The Magic are interested in bringing him back, but they don’t have his Bird rights. So, like Detroit, they have the mid-level exception at their disposal.

Maybe Detroit can negotiate a two- or three-year contract. But it only takes one team to offer more years. I suspect someone will. Maybe it will be the Pistons.


This team needs to get tougher. Maybe last year’s disappointments will fuel a more competitive spirit. But if they won’t, extra steps need to be taken.

Before signing Barnes, Joe Dumars really needs to take the pulse of this team. Do they need a Matt Barnes (because at his cost, Detroit shouldn’t sign him otherwise)?

I’d like to believe the answer is no. But I’m not sure that’s the case.


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