Matt Barnes wasn’t supposed to be a part of this championship-winning Golden State Warriorslineup. He signed up to make money for a bad Sacramento Kings that didn’t sniff the playoffs. Yet he finished as a member of one of the greatest teams of all-time.
Barnes accidentally ring-chased with the Warriors when the opportunity hit him. Coincidentally, it happened to be with a team he had history with. It was a storybook ending to a career that ran full circle.
Durant went down with an MCL injury late in February, which cost him two and a half months of play. The Warriors needed a replacement forward, and Barnes, a former Warrior, had recently been waived by the Sacramento Kings.
Days earlier, Golden State promised to sign Jose Calderon with its final roster spot. Durant’s injury shifted the Warriors’ plans, and though they followed through on their promise and paid Calderon, he was released two hours later.
That spot then belonged to Barnes.
In 20 appearances with the Warriors, he scored six points and added four rebounds, starting in a total of five games.
Barnes also has the Kings to thank for his new role
Barnes played for the Sacramento Kings until days before the trade deadline when he was cut at the expense of the DeMarcus Cousins trade to the New Orleans Pelicans. Sacramento needed to free a roster spot to complete the blockbuster deal.
For about a week, nobody knew if he’d even play again this season.
But a chance came with Durant’s injury and Barnes being cut became a grand opportunity to play for the team coming off a 73-win season.
Barnes has history with Golden State, making this win special
Barnes was a role player for the “We Believe Warriors,” made famous by knocking off the No. 1 seed Dallas Mavericks as the No. 8 seed in 2007. The team was Golden State’s first to make the playoffs in 12 seasons, and it only did so behind a 16-5 record to close the season. That team included Baron Davis, Jason Richardson, and Monta Ellis.
Barnes averaged 10 points and five rebounds for the team, starting in 23 games.
He was emotional after learning he’d be returning.He also texted former “We Believe” teammate, Stephen Jackson, telling him that he was going to get to finish what they started.
He was right.
Now, in the unlikeliest of times, Barnes is an NBA champion. It took nine different teams and ultimately a lucky break, but it happened for the 14-year veteran.
Barnes is a Warriors because Kevin Durant got hurt