Lakers' Matt Barnes on the mend

Updated: June 9, 2011, 7:40 PM ET
By Dave McMenamin | ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- Two weeks ago, Los Angeles Lakers forward Matt Barnes announced he would exercise the option in his contract to return to the team next year.

On Thursday the Lakers received news that suggested Barnes will be returning with a clean bill of health.

The eight-year veteran underwent an MRI on his right knee on Thursday that came back negative, showing continued improvement of the bone bruise he was suffering from.

"He'll continue to do rehab for at least another few weeks, and we expect a full recovery," said Lakers spokesman John Black in an email.

Black added that Barnes has regained full range of motion in the knee, which he hurt six months ago. Barnes described it as the first major injury of his career.

Before heading to the examination, Barnes tweeted, "'Bout to take my postseason MRI knees feeling better, I'm sure the MRI will say the same thing."

Barnes, 31, expressed as much two weeks ago after the introductory press conference for new head coach Mike Brown, where he was the only Lakers player to attend.

"It doesn't hurt no more, which is a good thing," Barnes said. "There's swelling still, but it doesn't hurt. ... Slowly but surely, it's starting to feel [normal]."

Barnes missed 26 straight games following Jan. 11 surgery to repair a tear in the lateral meniscus in the knee and had difficulty finding his rhythm once returning to the lineup in early March. He sat out Los Angeles' final two regular season games and needed the knee drained before the playoffs began.

He was largely ineffective in the postseason, when he estimated he was only 80 percent healthy, averaging just 3.6 points and 2.8 rebounds per game, down from the 6.7 points and 4.3 rebounds he put up in the regular season.

Barnes was signed as a free agent last summer to fill the role of Ron Artest's backup at small forward.

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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