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Matt Barnes considers his knee '90-95%' healthy

October 25, 2011 |  5:58 pm

Matt Barnes

Amid the fiery rhetoric, sagging popularity and lost paychecks among owners, players and concession workers, it remains hard to find a silver lining regarding the NBA lockout.

Lakers forward Matt Barnes sees otherwise. Oh, he wishes the season would start on time so he can help avenge the team's poor 2011 postseason performance all right. But in the pure interest of having enough time to rehab his surgically repaired right knee, the prolonged work stoppage has done wonders. So much that he considers his knee 90-95% healthy after scrimmaging Tuesday at Loyola Marymount University followed with an hour-long core-strengtening and flexibility session at Barre Physique Manhattan Beach.

"I’m starting to feel the spring coming back," Barnes said of his right knee, which suffered a lateral meniscus tear Jan. 7 against New Orleans. "I can still tell I’m not all the way back because when I go to the basket, I have to time myself to dunk. Before, it was just an afterthought. I’m pretty close. It’s probably another couple of weeks before I’m attacking the basket like I used to."

It's at least a better alternative than what faced Barnes last season. 

His surgery and rehab kept him sidelined for 26 consecutive games.  Once considered one of the Lakers' most reliable bench players because of his hustle, intensity and effective cutting, Barnes soon appeared tentative on the court. His 6.7 points per game on 47% shooting and 4.3 rebounds in 19.2 minutes during the regular season dipped to 3.6 points per game on 37% shooting and 2.8 rebounds in 13.1 minutes in the postseason.

Instead of feeling limited with his body, he's played in exhibition games in the Bay Area, in the Drew League and at LMU. Instead of watching games on the sideline, he's organizing ones. He's hosting one 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 5 at the San Jose State Event Center featuring the Golden State Warriors against his 2007 squad, which he said might also include Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson. Instead of having to monitor his activity, he's engaged in such intense core-strengthening and flexibility exercises that he says he's dropped from 230 pounds to 213.

Yup, everyone else might wish the lockout to end soon. But for Barnes, the prolonged time off has worked to his advantage. 

"I’ll be able to fly around more," Barnes said of his weight change. "With my knee it’s easy to gain weight. It’s important to weigh less than usual to take stress off the knee."


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--Mark Medina

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Photo: Matt Barnes: Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times