May 6, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Matt Barnes (9) shoots the ball during the second half of game four in the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Pepsi Center. The Lakers won 92-88. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE

2012 NBA Free Agency: Could New York Knicks Target Matt Barnes

Between now and the beginning of training camp, there will be a boatload of rumors surrounding potential free agents the New York Knicks could possibly sign.

ESPNnewYork.com’s Jared Zwerling got the party started this week when he suggested Los Angeles Lakers forward Matt Barnes would be a good fit in the Big Apple.

Zwerling said via Twitter:

Barnes was an asset coming off the bench in Lakerland the past two seasons, averaging 7.3 points and 3.4 rebounds in 116 games, starting 16 of those.

There are some positives to pursuing Barnes, who played six games for the Knicks during the 2005-06 season.

April 17, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers small forward Matt Barnes (9) scores a basket against the San Antonio Spurs during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

He’s a guy that would know his role. He’s an energy guy that comes off the bench to play defense and make hustle plays. The Knicks need guys to do that and Barnes could be a good fit in Mike Woodson’s system. Barnes runs the floor well and adds an element of toughness to the team, which all would be assets if he were in a Knicks uniform.

But there are some cons as well, including being an erractic shooter.

His numbers aren’t terrible. Barnes is a career 45 percent shooter from the floor and a career 33 percent shooter from behind the arc, however he’s very streaky and the Knicks have enough shooters who fit that description.

He’s also a bit demonstrative and is a magnet for whistles, but the pros outweigh the cons, especially the intangibles he brings at the defense end.

Barnes is an outstanding rebounder for a small forward — he finished fourth at his position in rebound rate in 2011 — because he’s quick to the ball and pursues every shot. Defensively he’s active, ranking in the top third of his position in both blocks and steals, but he’s also a bit wild and fouls like mad. He’s solid in one-on-one defense, and while he’s certainly not a stopper because he’s fairly slow for a small forward, he competes and is fairly long.

Truth be told, I don’t like Barnes much as a player at all, but I do like what he could bring to the Knicks bench. That unit needs some energy and toughness and he’s a guy that can guard either forward spot, which is a plus.

While I’m sure he would like to return to Los Angeles, if the Knicks could get the 32-year old close to the veteran’s minimum (very doubtful), he’s someone I feel Glen Grunwald should consider rolling the dice on.

The facts are that the Knicks should have enough scoring. What they need is for guys to do the little things and guys that don’t mind doing the dirty work.

That’s been Barnes throughout his career.

 

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