Harrison Barnes rumors are still persistent for the Golden State Warriors. These Barnes rumors may mean the Warriors won’t have him on the roster for the 2016-17 NBA season. A report from CBS Sports shines some light on the situation, as Barnes is about to become a free agent in the NBA offseason. If he doesn’t agree to take a discount to remain with the Warriors, it could be very difficult for the franchise to re-sign him.
It’s no secret that the Warriors are one of many teams that plan to pursue Kevin Durant when free agency opens. Durant just finished the final year of his contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder, meaning he is now eligible to sign with a new franchise. The Warriors will have to compete with teams like the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, and New York Knicks, but recent success certainly puts the defending NBA champions near the top of any list.
While Harrison Barnes is saying all the right things to the media, this will be the first opportunity he has had to sign a large contract in the NBA. Offering a discount may not even be on the table, forcing the Golden State Warriors to possibly make a big choice before free agency opens. The team can lock up Barnes quite easily by offering him a max contract, but will the front office want to have max deals to Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Barnes in the near future?
Earlier in the week, Barnes spoke with NBA.com, where he discussed his future with the team and how Kevin Durant might be his biggest roadblock to staying. If the front office is forced to decide whether to sign an interested Durant or keep Barnes on the payroll, most NBA analysts feel that Durant will be playing with the Golden State Warriors. He did respond to questions about whether he actually wants to remain with the Warriors.
“Assuming no one else chooses to sign here? It’s out of my control. People say, ‘Do you want to be here in Golden State?’ A lot of it is, look, I love Golden State. I’d love to be here. But there’s also some other factors that factor into that, you know what I’m saying?”
Reading into those statements that Harrison Barnes made, it seems pretty clear that he would re-sign with the Golden State Warriors if the money is right. Barnes made just about $3.9 million for the 2015-16 NBA season but should see a raise of about five times that amount for next year. As for the Warriors, the team is on the hook for just about $74 million for the 2016-17 NBA season, including qualifying offers of $3 million to Festus Ezeli and $5.2 million to Barnes. They also have a team option of about $5.8 million for Shaun Livingston.
Marreese Speights, Leandro Barbosa, Brandon Rush, Ian Clark, James Michael McAdoo, and Anderson Varejao will all be free agents as well. This means the team will have to do some work in free agency to fill in gaps on the bench. The Warriors do have a first-round selection in the 2016 NBA Draft (No. 30), so the team can fill one roster spot with a new young player. If the intent is to sign Kevin Durant as an unrestricted free agent to a max deal, though, it would require moving some pieces on the current roster.
In four seasons with the Golden State Warriors, Harrison Barnes has played in 307 games (246 starts). He has averaged 10.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.8 assists over that time. During the NBA Playoffs, he has averaged 10.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.3 assists over his first 58 games. That includes averaging 16.1 points and 6.4 rebounds during heavy minutes in the 2013 NBA Playoffs. The small forward would likely see a bump in minutes with a new team, so those numbers could easily climb higher.
As Barnes is a restricted free agent, the Warriors have a lot of power in the contract negotiations. It means the team can match any offer extended to him by another franchise, unless the Warriors decide to offer a max deal first. The front office has not indicated whether it will offer a deal first, but not having that requirement could mean a lengthy pursuit of Kevin Durant before “settling” on a long-term deal with Harrison Barnes.
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