Matt Barnes wasn’t guaranteed or promised anything in his NBA career.
In fact, the former Warriors forward nearly left hoops in 2006 to pursue football.
“I was on the verge of trying to jump into the NFL,” Barnes recently explained to Warriors broadcaster Bob Fitzgerald. “I was still working out — basketball and football — during the summertime because basketball hadn’t really seemed to hit.
“I had played four years up to that point and bounced around — been on a handful of teams — and just really wasn’t getting a fair shot.”
Barnes was selected in the second round (No. 46 overall) of the 2002 NBA Draft, but spent his entire rookie season in the G League with the Fayetteville Patriots.
He didn’t make his NBA debut until Jan. 19, 2004 when the Clippers gave him a shot with a 10-day contract.
Barnes signed with the Sacramento Kings in October 2004, and appeared in 43 games before he was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in February.
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That brings us to the summer of 2006.
“I was in Sacramento (his hometown) at the time. Baron Davis called me (and said), ‘Hey, we’re gonna have an open run at the facility (in Oakland). If you’re not doing nothing, come down.’ I wasn’t doing nothing. Hopped in my car, drove down an hour and a half.
“Played well — not knowing that Nellie (Warriors coach Don Nelson) was watching the whole time upstairs through the offices. We finished playing, he comes down, tells me I played well (and asks) where I’m going to camp. I was just like, ‘You know coach, I don’t really have any plans.’
“He told me, he’s like, ‘I can’t promise you anything. I think we have 16 guarantees and 19 people coming to training camp, but if you play like you did today I’ll give you a chance.’ And that was the first time a coach really had a conversation with me. That’s all I needed.
“(I) made the team and continued to use the games as practices and eventually worked my way into the lineup. The rest is history. That’s kind of when I put my name on the map.”
Over 76 games (23 starts) during the “We Believe” 2006-07 season, Barnes averaged 9.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.0 steals, while shooting nearly 37 percent from deep. In 11 playoff games, he averaged 11.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.5 steals and shot over 42 percent from 3-point range.
After one more season with the Dubs in 2007-08, Barnes played for the Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies and Kings.
The 40-year-old currently co-hosts a fantastic podcast with Stephen Jackson called “All the Smoke,” and he is terrific as an analyst on TV.
It’s crazy to think how different his life could have been had he not picked up BD’s phone call 14 years ago …
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