LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes returned to practice Thursday for the first time since suffering a left calf strain at the start of training camp.
Barnes, who hasn’t practiced in over two weeks and has sat out the team’s seven exhibition games, will play in the Clippers’ preseason finale against the Sacramento Kings on Friday.
“I’m feeling good,” Barnes said. “As long as everything goes well I should be playing tomorrow. It’s been frustrating but also educational to see where I can have an effect on the second unit. Our second unit still doesn’t have an identity and sitting back and watching these last six games I really see where I can fill in voids and be that voice for the second unit to get us doing what we need to do offensively and defensively.”
Barnes wasn’t expected to miss much time but said he suffered a setback early when he tried to return to the court too quickly.
“When I first started going again I think we went too hard at the beginning and that set me back a few more days,” Barnes said. “But we should be ready to go.”
Barnes, who previously played for the Los Angeles Lakers, also chimed in on the controversy regarding the Clippers hiding the Lakers’ championship banners and retired jerseys during their home games. He specifically had a message for Nick Young, who signed with the Lakers in the offseason and hasn’t won a title yet.
“No one from that team should have anything to say unless it’s Kobe or Pau because they’re the ones that put the banners up in the organization,” Barnes said. “Any new players should have zero to say about that situation.”
Barnes, who is one of the seven players featured on the banners hanging from the Staples Center walls during Clippers home games, said he understands Lakers fans having an issue with it but that the arena belongs to the Clippers when they are playing their home games.
“I understand it, with all due respect to everyone that put those banners up and those retired jerseys but when it’s our home court it’s our home court and it should be that way,” Barnes said. “It’s our home floor, it’s our fans and it should be that way.”
“It just shows that this organization has come a long way. I was here my rookie year and we were terrible and everybody knew that. We’ve come a long way through the organization and with the players we’ve signed. It’s a change of times and now it’s our time to shine.”