Matt Barnes travels with Lakers
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Los Angeles Lakers forward Matt Barnes, who underwent surgery Jan. 11 to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee, says he is fit to play and the decision on his return is now in the hands of the team.
Barnes, who is on his first road trip with the Lakers since suffering his injury on Jan. 7, went through warm-ups before the game and said he was ready to play and hoped to return to the lineup next week.
"Progress is very good and now it's really up to [coach] Phil [Jackson]. I've been practicing and rehabbing well," Barnes said. "I feel good but I don't want to cause any controversy. I want to be here for the long haul and when I'm back I want to make sure I stay back. When they're ready to have me back out there I'll be ready."
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Jackson said he would like to see Barnes go through a couple more full-contact practices before he activates the eight-year veteran, who was expected to miss eight weeks after surgery.
"When we see him go through some contact situations there will be a decision that will probably be affirmative in that regard," Jackson said. "Right now I don't know how much of a practice we can have [Monday] since it's a day off but we'll see later on this week and see how it goes."
While the Lakers didn't make any moves before the trade deadline, the team is hoping the addition of Barnes will give the team an added boost down the stretch. Barnes is averaging 7.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 20.8 minutes per game in 37 games played this season.
"We play a slower game when he's not here," Jackson said. "I think we have a much quicker speed game with our second unit when he's on the floor."
Arash Markazi is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.