The Warriors, on the brink of winning their first NBA title in 40 years, will have some roster decisions to make this summer. Chief among them is re-signing restricted free agent Draymond Green, and they’ll also have to decide whether or not David Lee is part of their long-term future as he enters the final year of his contract (hint: probably not). But flying slightly under the radar is the future of Harrison Barnes. Coming off his third year in the NBA, Barnes is eligible for an extension to his rookie contract, a pay raise that would kick in after the 2015-16 season. If he doesn’t sign an extension by October 31, he will become a restricted free agent next summer.
According to a new report by Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group, both sides would prefer to get something done before it comes to that:
Much of the Warriors-related contract talk this season has been focused on Draymond Green and how much the free agent-to-be will get. But he isn’t the only starting forward who should get a new deal this offseason.
Harrison Barnes, who once again has shined in the postseason, is due for a contract extension this offseason. And the Warriors should be diligent about making sure he gets it.
According to multiple sources, Barnes indeed wants an extension and the Warriors want to give him one. The only question is how much will he get.
Barnes has proven his worth this year after a disappointing second season in 2013-14. Steve Kerr moved him into the starting lineup upon taking over as head coach, which completely restored his confidence, and he’s proven himself to be a versatile scorer and defender. He mostly plays small forward, but he’s been effective in the frontcourt in smaller lineups with Green at center. It absolutely makes sense for the Warriors to keep him around, and they should. He’s been an important player in this title run.
The question of how much Barnes will get with a new contract is going to be a fascinating one. In 2016-17, the first year of his hypothetical new deal, the Warriors will be faced with the impending contract years of Stephen Curry ($12.1 million), Andre Iguodala ($11.1 million) and Andrew Bogut ($11 million), as well as Klay Thompson’s long-term deal that will pay him $16.6 million that season, per Basketball Insiders. It’s a pretty safe assumption that Green will also get maxed out this summer, meaning he’ll make similar money to Thompson.
The salary cap is going to jump significantly next summer thanks to the influx of revenue from the NBA’s new television deal, so if Barnes agreed to a deal worth, say, $10 million per year, that would look like an outright steal by the time the extension actually kicks in. Even if he asks for $12 or 13 million annually, that’s still a fair price considering his age (23), versatility and the impending cap spike. If they need to clear cap space to go after a major free agent, a contract like that for Barnes will still be very moveable.
It sounds like both sides want to get a deal done now and not worry about free agency in a year. What they can come up with between July and October will tell us a lot about the Warriors’ future plans.