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Matt Barnes considers knee 98% healthy

December 2, 2011 |  5:00 pm

After such a prolonged rehab on his surgically repaired right knee, Lakers forward Matt Barnes has grown accustomed to taking physicals.

It's just another reminder of unpleasant thoughts. Continuous physical therapy sessions that ate away lots of his summer. How the lateral meniscus tear on his right knee kept him sidelined for 26 consecutive games last season. The limited feeling Barnes felt on the court after having surgery.

But when he took his physical Friday at the Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo, it sparked a different feeling.

"I just wanted to come in here and smell the gym today, smell my locker and see how dirty it was," said Barnes, who was in street clothes on the Lakers' second day of voluntary workouts and physicals. "Listen to [Lakers trainer Gary Vitti] run his mouth. It's good to be back."

That's because after making improvements to his jumping, Barnes considers his knee 98% healthy. He believes he won't ever feel 100%  until training camp actually starts. But at a time when many could be dreading learning Mike Brown's new system in a compressed 66-game schedule, Barnes is relishing it. 

He never became accustomed to suffering his first major injury of his eight-year NBA career. But playing on eight different teams in that span, Barnes has become a quick study on fitting into a new system. Now that his injury no longer appears to be an issue, Barnes plans to study Brown's DVD highlighting the defensive principles pretty closely. 

"It wont be hard for me," Barnes said. "I do my homework in the summer time to be ready for what's going on. I know I'm going to be able to play defense, rebound and knock down open shots."

Now that Barnes has a healthy knee, he likely will.


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--Mark Medina

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