Barnes says he fits Grizzlies' 'Grit & Grind' approach
Now that the Grizzlies have acquired him, the veteran forward is eager to continue playing that brand of basketball while winning over a fan base that had grown accustomed to cheering against him.
''This is a whole - not just team but city - with my ideal, a grind mentality,'' Barnes said Tuesday. ''I've been on teams that run-and-gun and dunk and shoot a lot of 3's, but I've never been on a team that everyone has the same mindset I do. That's very exciting from a player's standpoint.''
Charlotte had picked up Barnes along with center Spencer Hawes less than two weeks earlier in a trade that sent guard Lance Stephenson to the Los Angeles Clippers. Barnes averaged 10.1 points, 4 rebounds and 1.5 assists while playing a career-high 29.9 minutes per game with the Clippers last season.
Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace said the 35-year-old Barnes ''wears his heart on his sleeve,'' an approach that could make the 6-foot-7 forward an ideal fit for a franchise that relies on hustle and defense.
''If there's any player that was destined to be a Grizzly, it's Matt Barnes,'' Wallace said. ''He's a guy that we had our dustups with when he was on the other side of the fence - particularly the Clippers - but now he's one of us and we're ecstatic to have him.''
The Grizzlies actually drafted Barnes in the second round in 2002, but they immediately traded him to Cleveland in a draft-night deal. Barnes has been moving around ever since. He's played for both Los Angeles franchises as well as Sacramento, New York, Philadelphia, Golden State, Phoenix and Orlando.
This latest move has his twin sons somewhat confused.
''They're just like, `Daddy, so do you not like DeAndre (Jordan), Chris (Paul) and Blake (Griffin) anymore?' '' Barnes said. ''I'm like, `No, they're still my friends. They're the enemy when the ball goes up.' I'm a competitor. I have friends on the other team obviously, but for 48 minutes my only friends are my teammates.''
Barnes irritates opponents with his tenacious defense and fiery personality. The Grizzlies already have one of the league's top defenders in guard Tony Allen. Having both could make the Grizzlies even peskier.
''The best compliment you can give somebody is that you just don't like playing against him,'' Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said. ''Matt's a guy we just did not like playing against. ... We want those kinds of guys on our team.''
Grizzlies fans loved to hate Barnes whenever the Clippers came to Memphis the last few seasons. Now that he's on their side, Barnes wants to earn their approval.
''I realize that I'm one of those guys that if I'm not with you, you hate me,'' Barnes said. ''But when I'm with you, you understand who I am and what I'm about and love me. I'm looking forward to winning this crowd and winning this city over and helping bring a championship here.''