Among restricted free agents this upcoming summer, one of the more coveted will be Golden State Warriors forward Harrison Barnes. Some believe he will command a max contract this summer and with the Los Angeles Lakers bringing over Luke Walton as the new head coach, going after Barnes would make a lot of sense.
Barnes being a restricted free agent of course, makes him more difficult to obtain as the Warriors can match any deal he chooses to sign, but there are questions as to how high they are willing to go to retain him.
With free agency less than a month away Barnes told Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com that he would love to stay with the Warriors, but noted that he can’t control everything:
“It’s out of my control,” Barnes said. “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?”
The main factor Barnes is referring to is the Warriors reported interest in Kevin Durant. With Klay Thompson and Draymond Green already locked into max deals, and Stephen Curry due up in 2017, there is no way the Warriors could afford to keep Barnes if they can sign Durant.
If they can’t bring Durant over, the Warriors still may be hesitant to pay Barnes max money which would start at around $21 million for the fourth year player. Barnes is a role player with Golden State, but if he were to come to the Lakers his role would expand as he would be a featured player in the offense.
The Warriors surely want to keep Barnes as they are close to winning back-to-back championships and breaking their core up would be foolish. The question now is what price are they willing to pay to keep everyone together. If there is a limit, Barnes could be headed elsewhere and fewer places make better sense for him than the Lakers.