Friday, July 11, 2008

Express News: Rockets swipe Barry with a two-year deal

Rockets swipe Barry with a two-year deal

Web Posted: 07/10/2008 11:00 PM CDT

By Mike Monroe

The Spurs will be younger and more athletic next season, but even if they win another NBA title, it's not likely they will have as much fun as they had during Brent Barry's four seasons in silver and black.

One day after the Spurs reached agreement with free agent Roger Mason, a younger guard who plays the same big guard position, Barry on Thursday signed a two-year contract with the Houston Rockets. The Houston Chronicle reported the deal will pay Barry $3.9 million over the two seasons.

The 6-foot-7, 36-year-old guard has been one of the league's most accurate 3-point shooters over the course of 13 seasons. He signed a free agent deal with the Spurs in the summer of 2004 and was a key contributor off the bench in each of his four seasons.

In his very first season with the Spurs, he helped them win their third NBA championship. In that playoff run he made 28 of 66 3-point shots. Even when Spurs coach Gregg Popovich cut his regular playing rotation down to seven for the final three games of a memorable, seven-game Finals against the Detroit Pistons, Barry was among the seven.

As valuable as he was on the court, Barry was nearly as vital in the locker room, always keeping things jovial and upbeat. He turned the team's annual preseason luncheon into a laugh-filled production that featured skits in which the players lampooned everyone and everything, including themselves. The highlight of last season's luncheon: Manu Ginobili, in a white dress and wig, lip-synching to “Don't Cry for Me, Argentina.”

As valuable as Barry was to the Spurs offensively, his defensive deficiencies often landed him in hot water with Popovich. He nearly was traded to the Hornets on trade deadline day in 2006 in a deal that would have brought J.R. Smith to San Antonio. The deal was not consummated only because it was not completed and submitted before the deadline had passed.

One day before last season's trading deadline, the Spurs sent an injured Barry, at the time recovering from his second torn left calf muscle of the season, and center Francisco Elson to the Seattle SuperSonics for center-forward Kurt Thomas. The Sonics subsequently waived Barry, making him a free agent. Not allowed to rejoin the Spurs for 30 days he waited the month and rejoined the team in time for another playoff push.

Though he began the playoffs with his left calf still sore, by the time the Spurs reached the Western Conference finals against the Lakers, he had regained a spot in a shortened rotation.

Ironically, his best game of the playoffs was in the Spurs' Game 5 loss to the Lakers, when he scored a career playoff high 23 points. Spurs fans, though, will remember the final play of that game, when Barry was bumped as he tried to go up for a 3-point shot that could have given the Spurs a one-point victory, only to have the game end without a foul call.

After reviewing the play, the NBA admitted the referees had erred in not calling L.A's Derek Fisher for fouling Barry on the play. Barry responded to the admission with typical wit, a reference to the “Back To the Future” movies about time travel: “Tell Doc Brown I've got the De Lorean outside. We're going to fire up the flux capacitors and go back and shoot a couple of free throws.”

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