Matt Barnes has not completely disconnected from the team with which he began the season.
He’s still in a group chat with the Kings’ Garrett Temple and Rudy Gay and former King DeMarcus Cousins, so the communication continues.
Still, Barnes, who was waived Feb. 20 to make room for the three players in the trade that sent Cousins and Omri Casspi to New Orleans, isn’t complaining about how things have worked out now that he’s playing for the Golden State Warriors, who have the best record in the NBA.
“I miss those guys, but I’m very happy with where I’m at now,” Barnes said prior to Friday’s game against the Kings at Oracle Arena.
Barnes said he wanted to “kill” the Kings in a media session Thursday, obviously in a figurative sense.
Still, that got the attention of some who took Barnes’ words as a plan for premeditated aggression, which was not the case.
“I think everyone took said yesterday as me literally trying to kill somebody, but those guys are still my friends,” Barnes said. “Obviously we still speak. During the game, we’re enemies.”
Barnes was picked up by the Warriors after Kevin Durant got injured. Barnes said the transition has gone “smoothly” in the locker room.
That’s obvious, because Warriors have no problem poking fun at Barnes.
“James Michael McAdoo told the team (Friday) that Sacramento has played much better since they got rid of Matt Barnes,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “That’s what Mac said. It got a good laugh, especially out of Matt.”
The Kings entered Friday 3-11 since the trade and cutting Barnes.
Barnes hoped to help his hometown Kings return to the playoffs, but now he’s on a team that has already clinched a playoff berth.
“Not only the playoff mix but a real chance to win a ring, and at this point in my career I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Barnes said. “So that Sacramento situation was really just a blessing in disguise.”
Barnes was popular with his teammates and the coaching staff.
Barnes called Dave Joerger and his staff “amazing” and believed the Kings were headed to a likely first-round matchup with the Warriors before the deal.
“I’m happy for him,” Joerger said. “He also started his career here. The idea was come back to his hometown and let’s see if we can get it in the right direction. He cares deeply about that.
“He’s one of the best teammates I ever coached, definitely happy for him to be here or any other great situation in your career to have a chance to go do something in the playoffs.”
Barnes said he’s not holding a grudge against the front office that let him go in Sacramento. It helps that he landed with the Warriors, but Barnes said he knows the NBA is a business.
“I think I understand more than anybody this is strictly a business,” said Barnes, who has played for nine teams in 14 seasons. “People want us to be robots and not get feelings, but it’s hard sometimes. For me being back at home trying to help this team make the playoffs and the next day just be gone, it was a tough situation but it was a blessing in disguise.”
The move shocked Barnes because the Kings had played their best basketball of the season before the deal. He said he’s noticed some of the young players have played well for Sacramento and he’s “sure they have a timetable” to improve.
“What was so crazy to me was they were so adamant about the trade not happening,” Barnes said. “It almost feels like everybody was lied to, to an extent. From a player standpoint we were playing pretty well and then all of a sudden it’s a rude awakening.”
Visiting – Gay attended his first game in California since having surgery on his ruptured Achilles’ tendon in January.
Gay, who has been rehabbing in Miami, attended the Kings game in San Antonio on March 8.
Rest update – Darren Collison, Tyreke Evans and Anthony Tolliver were given the night off for planned rest.