Harrison Barnes out again Friday with foot injury, could send him to sixth man role

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On paper it always seemed logical that Harrison Barnes would be the sixth man in Golden State (and he said he was good with that). You don’t pay Andre Iguodala $12.9 million to come off the bench, and do you really want to mess with the Stephen Curry/Klay Thompson backcourt?

Still, Mark Jackson was going all Pete Carroll and calling it an open competition where the best players would get the spots.

Now it looks like an injury could decide this (and force Jackson to do what we expected). Barnes will be out again on Friday when the Warriors play the Lakers in Shanghai due to a left foot inflammation.

It’s not that serious, but Jackson told Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com it could well make the decision on the rotation.

“Unfortunately [the injury] has got to play a factor because you didn’t really get to see those units together, no matter who it is. The good thing is, I know all of these guys. I envisioned when we got Andre how I would utilize all of them and that hasn’t changed.”

What Jackson has now is options to create some matchup problems if he wants. He can use Iguodala at the two, Barnes at the three (with Curry at the point) and go bigger and more defensive minded. Or he can give Thompson big minutes on shooting is what is called for.

What matters is not who starts games but who finishes them, even though that sometimes gets lost on young players. Barnes has said all the right things, but he’s a starter headed to a sixth man role and we’ll see how he adjusts.