By Marcus Thompson
Wednesday, January 24th, 2007 at 8:03 pm in Uncategorized.
The arrival of Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson already cut into Matt Barnes minutes. Now, Kelenna Azubuike might be doing so as well.
Nellie said before Wednesday’s game that Barnes wasn’t sucking on defense too much to get some playing time.
To play, Nellis said Barnes needs to “guard people, keep people in front of him, not be a sieve on defense.”
Remember, the last time Nellie started ripping cats, they got shipped to Indiana.
Since Barnes isn’t needed to score, as he was when the Warriors were injury depleted, his way to earn minutes is being a defensive stopper and rebounding. But Nellie said Barnes gets some of the lowest marks on defense and is falling back into bad habits.
Nellie said Azubuike, who can play the same position as Barnes, is a better defender (which is why Barnes sat the entire Laker game and Azubuike got a shot at defending Kobe). Even worse, Nellie said Azubuike, a rookie, is about even with Barnes as far as what they can contribute and that the only reason Barnes will get the call off the bench first (for now) is because he’s more experienced.
Seems like a pretty far fall from grace for a player who saved the Warriors through some dire times.
Barnes play earlier this season may have made him just valuable enough to trade. If they like Azubuike more, Barnes becomes expendable, especially because he would cost more. But if he plays defense like he did in the second quarter Wednesday — five rebounds, a couple blocks, a strip — he will certainly work his way back into the regular rotation.