Golden State Warriors starting small forward Harrison Barnes will soon become a restricted free agent, and he is expected to attract interest from numerous teams this summer. Barnes’ play in the 2016 NBA Finals has only cemented him as one of the biggest prizes this summer, averaging 13.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per 36 minutes in the championship series according to Basketball-Reference. His efficiency has also been impressive, as Barnes is shooting 51.3 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from behind the arc versus the Cleveland Cavaliers.
With the Warriors likely to win the championship, Golden State seems primed to re-sign Barnes. He is familiar with the team and the coaching staff, and knows exactly what to expect in terms of his role with the Warriors. Golden State also gives him the best chance to win more championships with no signs of their 73-win machine declining any time soon. However, nearly every NBA team will have money to possibly spike Barnes’ interest this summer due to the rising cap, which cannot be ignored.
Despite several notable teams with plans to go after him, there is only one way that Barnes decides to leave the Warriors according to Sporting News.
“The one possible scenario in which Barnes leaves, the source said, would be if he approached the Warriors front office with a request to be elsewhere. If Barnes determines he would like to have a chance to be a more featured part of an offense, the Warriors would likely honor that — especially if a sign-and-trade deal could be worked out.”
This same source cites Nicolas Batum as a possible option in a sign-and-trade deal for Barnes. Batum is also a free agent this summer, and his skills fit perfectly within Golden State’s system as well.
Although unlikely, a scenario where Barnes chooses a different team makes sense in some ways. Barnes has been a fourth option offensively for his entire time in Golden State, and he may want to showcase his complete skill set in another role on a different team. Barnes has displayed glimpses of being able to take on a bigger offensive load, and the 24-year-old could be enticed by more offensive responsibility from other teams.
With the Warriors, Barnes has been mostly relegated to a catch-and-shoot type of role, benefiting from the attention that Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson receive on every possession. Golden State has given Barnes an ample amount of looks from the corner, where he has shot 41.0 percent in his career according to Basketball-Reference. Furthermore, Barnes’ usage percentage has never eclipsed 17.7 percent in Golden State, demonstrating where he stands in Golden State’s offense. This season, 63.4 percent of his two-point field goal attempts have come off of an assist.
Report: Warriors believe Harrison Barnes worth $20 million next season https://t.co/5zHg9G2tNe— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) June 11, 2016
Still, if Barnes is willing to accept his role behind Curry, Thompson, and Draymond Green, he will continue to put up these efficient numbers in a limited role. Barnes certainly fits the Warriors philosophy of up-tempo basketball, similar to his college playing days at North Carolina. Golden State is also able to go small with Barnes on the court, and he plays power forward in the Warriors’ best lineups.
Ultimately, Barnes’ decision will be impacted by the chance to win championships, and he spoke to Sporting News about how much that matters to him.
“When you peel away the individual stats and the money that could be made, all that kind of pales in comparison to championships. That’s what it’s all about.”
Ultimately, teams that strike out on players like Mike Conley and Kevin Durant will use Barnes as a fallback option this offseason. In the end, Barnes will most likely find that Golden State is where he fits best.
[Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]