With the likelihood of Kevin Durant heading to Oakland this summer, Harrison Barnes could prove to be the sacrificial lamb. Barnes is being a consummate professional about it.
Barnes, a restricted free agent in July, would like nothing more than sign a max contract extension with the reigning NBA champions. But the Warriors won’t have enough cap room to sign both Durant and Barnes to max deals, let alone both players play at the wing.
Warriors fans have taken a strong liking to Barnes since the team drafted him with the 7th pick in 2012. However, they would be willing to give up Barnes in a heartbeat for the sake of Durant. And you can’t blame them. It’s Durant, after all.
On Tuesday, when told that Durant might be replacing him, Barnes said, “Oh man, that’s part of the business. He’s (Durant) a great player. If that’s the move they want to make, you know, hopefully, it works out.”
The Warriors could go about acquiring Kevin Durant in two ways: either withdraw Barnes’ qualifying offer and renounce him or send the Iowa product to OKC on a sing-and-trade deal. However, it’s possible that Barnes would want to sign elsewhere.
In recent years, the Warriors have been linked to a number of superstar free agents. And Barnes has grown accustomed to the chatter. “It’s always something, right? The first summer (in 2012), it was Dwight (Howard). The next summer, it was Kevin Love. Every single year, there’s always been somebody who the Warriors wanted or somebody who wanted to come here. That’s part of the business. That stuff happens,” said Barnes.
If Barnes is cut by the Warriors, expect a host of teams to pursue the talented small forward. “If it happens, great. If it doesn’t, great. At the end of the day, I’ll still get the chance to be in the NBA and still get to play.”
Last year, Barnes earned the praise of LeBron James after the Warriors defeated the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. Barnes and Andre Igudala shared the collective responsibility of guarding James.
Stay tuned for latest Kevin Durant free agency murmurs.