The Los Angeles Lakers will be looking to make big improvements this off-season. Between the draft, trades, and free agency the team has a number of avenues to make improvements and one player who could be a potential target is Golden State Warriors forward Harrison Barnes.
The Lakers have a huge hole at the small forward position, and Barnes would fit perfectly. He has all of the tools that teams look for in the position, and at only 23 years old, could grow with the young players the Lakers already have.
One question surrounding Barnes is whether or not he would thrive in an increased role. Speaking on his ESPN LA radio show, Mychal Thompson said he believes that Barnes could be a featured scorer if he were to come to Los Angeles, as transcribed by Diamond Leung of Inside the Warriors:
“I think he’s capable of averaging 18 a game here if the Lakers sign him and brought him here.” Thompson said. “I think he could be more of a featured scorer, maybe a No. 2 option, maybe even a No. 1 on certain nights. He’s capable of putting up in the high-20s. He’s a very good shooter, can get to the basket, very athletic. He just hasn’t been asked to do very much in Golden State, but coming here, he’d be asked to do more, and I think he could.”
For his part, when asked about the possibility of joining the Lakers this off-season, Barnes laughed off the possibility via Leung:
When it was brought up that Walton might look to install a Warriors-like system and look for a Warriors-like player on the open market to bring with him, Barnes said while laughing Monday on 95.7 The Game, “See, that’s tampering at that point. That’s just tampering.”
The fact that Barnes is a restricted free agent makes it more difficult for the Lakers to obtain him in free agency. Though with so much money tied up between Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, and Stephen Curry due for a contract extension in 2017, some have wondered whether or not the Warriors would match a huge contract offer for Barnes.
It is unknown whether Barnes’ relationship with new Lakers coach Luke Walton gives the Lakers an inside track at landing him. Barnes being a target of the Lakers does make sense considering the team’s needs and his familiarity with Walton and the offensive set he plans on running.