Matt Barnes exercises option to stay with the Lakers
Citing frustration over the Lakers' four-game loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals -- and his own limited effectiveness following right-knee surgery -- Lakers forward Matt Barnes said Tuesday he will exercise his $1.91-million option to return to the Lakers.
"I'll be a Laker next year," Barnes said after new coach Mike Brown's introductory news conference. "I want to win. It's a great opportunity."
That's a small dose of good news in an otherwise uncertain offseason. Brown's 40-minute news conference contained indications of that uncertainty as he fielded plenty of questions on whether he's suited to bring the Lakers to another championship.
Barnes being the only player in attendance at the news conference raises questions about whether the team truly supports Brown's arrival, though Barnes and team officials insisted that most players are on vacation. With the Lakers not announcing the news conference until Memorial Day, altering those plans might have been difficult, they said.
Another uncertainty is Barnes himself, who continues to rehab his surgically repaired knee.
"It doesn't hurt no more," he said, though he added that swelling remains and that he's a month away from being able to run and jump.
Barnes' offseason has hardly been relaxing, even if he has spent the last 2 1/2 weeks on vacation. He said he's refused to watch the NBA playoffs because of the Lakers' early playoff elimination, and that he still constantly thinks about suffering a lateral meniscus tear on Jan. 7, an injury that sidelined him for 29 games.
Anytime he walks out the door of his Palos Verdes home, he said, his 2-year-old twin sons Carter Kelly and Isaiah Michael believe he's off to practice or a game. He hasn't exactly lied to them, he said, he just never bothered telling them otherwise because the frustration lingers -- and is the reason he wants to come back to the Lakers.
"The bitter taste in my mouth from here on out drove me to not want to go anywhere else," he said, acknowledging that having some stability after playing with eight different teams in his nine-year NBA career also influenced his decision. "I want to come back to right the ship."
-- Mark Medina
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