Matt Barnes earned Dave Joerger’s trust last season playing for him with the Memphis Grizzlies.
That trust, if anything, has only been enhanced this season with the Kings.
He comes through and not just in making shots. It’s a lot of other stuff. He’s been a real catalyst.
Dave Joerger, Kings coach, on Matt Barnes
Barnes made his first start of the season Tuesday night when the Kings played the Miami Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena. Miami starts a small lineup around center Hassan Whiteside, so starting Barnes made sense.
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Barnes plays both forward spots, and the coaching staff and his teammates rely on his knowledge of Joerger’s offense and defense.
“I have a lot of confidence in him,” Joerger said. “His teammates have a lot of confidence in him.”
Barnes always has been known for his tenacious defense. Opponents say he walks the line of being too physical.
Barnes entered Tuesday averaging 10.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists.
What Joerger might appreciate more is Barnes’ ability to help put teammates in the right spots on offense and defense.
“He comes through and not just in making shots,” Joerger said. “It’s a lot of other stuff. He’s been a real catalyst.”
His time finally came – Whiteside’s rise from Kings castoff to Heat cornerstone has been well documented. What’s not mentioned as much is Whiteside’s brief time with Joerger.
Whiteside was with the Grizzlies during training camp in 2014 and was waived just before the season began.
Joerger said Memphis’ roster was “full,” including All-Star-caliber big men Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Kings center Kosta Koufos was also on that team, leaving no room for Whiteside.
He’s a heck of a nice guy. I like him a lot. I’m happy for his success and happy he got paid. He’s in a good place.
Dave Joerger, Kings coach, on the Heat’s Hassan Whiteside, whom he briefly coached in Memphis
“It was awful because it was his time,” Joerger said. “You could see he was ready to play in the league.”
After the Grizzlies briefly called him up from the NBA Development League that fall, Whiteside signed with the Heat and began his ascension.
The Kings drafted Whiteside in the second round in 2010. They cut him in July 2012 to sign guard Aaron Brooks.
After playing overseas and in the D-League, Whiteside now is one of the NBA’s premier shot blockers, and he signed a four-year deal reportedly worth $98 million in July.
“He’s a heck of a nice guy,” Joerger said. “I like him a lot. I’m happy for his success and happy he got paid. He’s in a good place.”
Familiar faces – The Heat are much different from the team that was a championship contender a little more than two years ago. Miami now is rebuilding around a younger core of Whiteside and point guard Goran Dragic.
The Heat also have a collection of former Kings to help with the process. Whiteside, Derrick Williams (2013-15) and James Johnson (2012-13) are former Kings, and Willie Reed was in training camp with Sacramento in 2012. Wayne Ellington was traded to the Kings in 2014 but was waived before playing in Sacramento.