Formerly of the Lakers, free agent forward Matt Barnes won't have to move his locker far as he nears a deal with the Los Angeles Clippers, Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick reports. Amick reports that a deal could be reached later this week, as Barnes is "strongly leaning" toward signing with the other NBA squad that makes Staples Center its home.
The signing of Barnes could likely be due to the pleading of Clippers point guard Chris Paul, Amick writes.
The small forward averaged 7.8 points and 5.5 rebounds last season, but those numbers faded to 3.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game in the postseason. A versatile defender, rebounder and passer, Barnes will join fellow summer free agent signee Grant Hill on the roster at small forward. Barnes played with Hill on the Phoenix Suns in 2008-09.
Barnes began his NBA career with the Clippers in the 2003-04 season after he was drafted in the second round by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2002. The 6'7, 226-pound forward is a Santa Clara, Calif., native and former UCLA Bruin.
The signing of Barnes is just the latest in a strong free agent push by the Clippers after the team re-signed guard Chauncey Billups, and added scorer Jamal Crawford, big man Ronny Turiaf along with Hill.