Is Luke Walton Bringing Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezili To Lakers?
The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to make a run at Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezili, the two Golden State Warriors players who are restricted free agents this offseason.Advertisement
Remember, the Warriors will have the right to match any and all offer sheets that Barnes and Ezili receive. The question is: will assistant coach Luke Walton persuade the Warriors to give up the duo?
On Saturday, Warriors big man Marreese Speights sparked the rumor mill when he posted a snapchat video of Barnes and Ezili having breakfast and calling them “Future Lakers” in his caption, via the Twitter account of Payton Grant. Both Barnes and Ezili are familiar with Walton’s system, having worked with the Warriors assistant coach for the last two seasons.
Lakers must pursue tandem
Though the Lakers plan to chase other free agents, most of whom are unrestricted, they should take a hard look at both Barnes and Ezili – seeing as team is desperate for help at the Small Forward and Center positions. Though not all-star caliber players, Barnes and Ezili would instantly fix the defensive woes that have plagued the Lakers for the past three seasons.
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Last week, former Laker Mychal Thompson told ESPN LA Radio that Barnes had the ability to be No. 2 scoring option for the Purple & Gold. “I think he’s (Barnes is) capable of averaging 18 a game here if the Lakers sign him and brought him here. 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.”
Harrison Barnes laughs off rumors
Later that week, Barnes appeared on 95.7 The Game to address the rumors that Walton’s appointment as Lakers coach could persuade the small forward to jump ship. “See, that’s tampering at that point. That’s just tampering,” Barnes said while laughing.
If the Warriors successfully sign Kevin Durant this offseason, it’s highly likely that they let go off Barnes. However, there is a feeling within the organization that Ezili will take Andrew Bogut’s place in the starting unit next season. The Lakers would still be pleased to land a talent like Barnes.
According to Lakers fan site Silver Screen & Roll, Barnes and Lakers would be an ideal fit. “Harrison Barnes is only 23 years old, but he’s already the kind of high IQ player that would really help the Lakers with his off ball movement. At 38% for his career, he’s a legitimate threat from three and shot over 40% last season.”
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