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Matt Barnes: Knee feeling better, involved in Pro-Am altercation

Those two things, by the way, are only tangentially related.

It just so happens that on the very same Thursday we spoke to Matt Barnes for the podcast and ESPNLA On Air, he found himself in a scrap during a San Francisco Pro-Am game later that night. Barnes reportedly threw a punch, and didn't seem terribly remorseful for having done so.

Barnes caught flak in the same league last season for slapping the coach of another team. In the grand scheme of things, Thursday's incident means very little except Matt Barnes apparently takes basketball games- all basketball games- very seriously and that he has a temper, both things we already knew. Lakers fans, though, should be more concerned about the state of Barnes' knee, one of the subjects we kicked around in the interview (at right). Given their relative lack of depth at small forward and the low level of production from the 3 during the '10-'11 season, the Lakers can't afford a setback for Barnes. He's not a star, but before the injury was outplaying Ron Artest. Other topics of conversation include what went wrong for the Lakers against the Mavs, whether Barnes would consider playing overseas during a protracted lockout, and his charity golf tournament coming up next week.

Here are some highlights...

On the state of his knee: “It’s starting to come along. There were some complications that we kind of kept to ourselves on my comeback [during the regular season]. I ended up pinching a nerve in my back, on the same side as my knee, and it ended up making my knee swell, and really hurt. I just couldn’t do anything. I was icing constantly and at the same time trying to strengthen it, but if I strengthened it I started to swell. So I really couldn’t do too much once I came back during the season. We were hoping in the playoffs it would feel better, but it felt even worse. Needless to say after my injury, my season was basically over.”

“We took about 10 weeks off after the season, got all the swelling out, all the pain out, and now we’re starting to rebuild it. Everything’s feeling a lot better now.

On a scale of 1-10, where are you? "I’m about an eight, which is a good thing. And I definitely don’t want to be locked out, but taking advantage of this time being off; it’s allowing me not to have to rush back and have to do anything extreme to make my knee right. It’s going to be able to naturally heal.”

Was it nerve-wracking to get back on the floor? “Yeah, for the simple fact that it was my first time playing, really… It was really my first time knowing I’d be out there and playing for a long time since January. From that standpoint, I was a little nervous. Coming down from dunks and coming down on rebounds, and just the whole mental factor (of wondering if his knee would hold up). But once I ran around and did a few things, and someone tripped me and I went down hard and got back up, once I was able to kind of test it it was a sigh of relief, and I knew I could just go out there and play."

On what went wrong vs. Dallas: “They beat us down. Everybody knows that you have to close in the playoffs… and against Dallas, we had leads in a few games coming down the stretch, and we gave that up. Dallas took advantage of every mistake that we made… We ran into a better team in that particular series.”

“I really think that run we made, it kind of gives you a false sense of security… What you do in the playoffs is a product of what you’re going to get in the playoffs. We had a hot streak, but for the most part in the season we were up and down… It was a factor of a very inconsistent season on our part, and when you come to the playoffs you can’t have that.”

Would he consider playing overseas during the lockout? “No. The lockout is definitely going to give me time to get my knee right. I’m just going to take the time to get healthy and strengthen my knee, and work on new parts of my game. You never want to be locked out, but at the same time it’s almost a blessing right now to give me more time for my knee to heal.”