Grizzlies Double-Down on ‘Nasty’ With Addition of Once-Heartless Matt Barnes

By Don Wade

Here's the Matt Barnes resume ...

At his introductory press conference as a Grizzly, Matt Barnes, shown here with Chris Wallace and Dave Joerger, looked downright establishment – minus the neck tattoos – in a gray three-piece suit.

Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Brandon Dill/NBAE via Getty Images)

• Kicked a water bottle and cussed at a fan during an L.A. Clippers game at the Washington Wizards and fined $25,000 by the NBA.

• Fined $25,000 by the league for profane language directed at Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver.

• Fined $50,000 by the NBA for his run-in with James Harden’s mother during the playoff series vs. Houston (you know, the one where the Clippers blew a 3-1 lead). “We’ve made our peace,” Barnes later said. “She said something, I said something back.”

• Criticized by his ex-wife, via TMZ no less, for all of his fines. “Hell yeah, his fines affect me,” TMZ quoted Gloria Govan as saying. “Anytime he gets fined, I’m always yelling at him like, `Dude, this is our kids’ college fund we’re talking about. Get your (stuff) together.’”

• Kicked over a garbage can after leaving the court at FedExForum following a 2013 Clippers playoff loss (trash action, as opposed to trash talk); dropped career-high 36 points on the Grizzlies while with Golden State in 2007.

• Conventional career stats in 12 NBA seasons: 8.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 44.8 field goal percentage, 33.8 three-point FG percentage.

• More interesting career stats in 12 NBA seasons: 71 technical fouls, including a career-high 13 last season, 21 flagrant fouls and 11 ejections.

“I realize I’m one of those guys that if I’m not with you, you hate me,” Barnes said during his Tuesday, July 28, introductory press conference as a Grizzly, where he held up his No. 22 jersey (the anti-Rudy Gay, if you will) while looking downright establishment – minus the neck tattoos – in a gray three-piece suit.

Matt Barnes will wear No. 22, Rudy Gay’s old number, for the Grizzlies.

Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Brandon Dill/NBAE via Getty Images)

“But if I’m with you, you understand who I am and what I’m about and love me. I’m looking forward to winning this city over and help bring a championship here.”

Yes, those would be the goals.

Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace even went so far as to suggest that Barnes was “destined to be a Grizzly.” Technically, of course, he already had been; Memphis drafted him 46th overall out of UCLA back in 2002 and immediately traded him to Cleveland.

Now, at 35, Barnes comes back in a trade with Charlotte; the Hornets had acquired Barnes in a deal that sent Lance Stephenson to the Clippers.

So Barnes, who was right up there with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin on the local hate meter, is suddenly family. And if nothing else, he’s believable as kin to Tony Allen and Zach Randolph.

Face it: If Allen never became The Grindfather and played for the Clippers, you would despise him. If Z-Bo played for the OKC Thunder, you would loathe him, too.

The three of them together in Beale Street blue could make the old Bad Boy Detroit Pistons look soft.

“Going into this season, we’re gonna try to be nasty,” Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said. “I think nasty is the word that’s going to come up a lot as we go to training camp. We’re gonna be nasty. You come in the paint, things are not going to be happy for you.”

Everyone understands the Grizzlies’ chief flaws: not enough outside shooting, not enough overall athleticism.

Given that, the team had two choices: make dramatic moves to address those flaws, or tweak those areas while trying to push the Grizzlies’ grit-and-grind strengths to new heights.

They chose the latter and it was the only choice once center Marc Gasol signed a new, long-term deal.

The Grizzlies’ identity isn’t going to change much. They don’t bluff, they will drag you into the mud, and if you want to fight … well, can’t imagine anyone wanting to do that now.

“Me, Zach and Tony will be ready to hold Memphis down,” Barnes said.

So yeah, the Matt Barnes resume – Grizzlies Era – no doubt will have some additions. More technicals, more fines, probably a flagrant here and there and an ejection or two (he was tossed six times in his three seasons with the Clippers).

“Matt is a versatile, passionate player that wears his heart on his sleeve,” Wallace said.

Funny, though, until recently all of Memphis would have sworn Matt Barnes didn’t even have one of those.