In Game 7, looking to provide a little more defense, Steve Kerr moved Andre Iguodala into the starting lineup and had Harrison Barnes come off the bench. Iguodala also provides another ball handler, and his presence seems to settle the Warriors down on offense. Iguodala played 43 minutes, Barnes 22 (but he was +7 in those minutes).
Last year in the Finals, Iguodala was Golden State’s primary and best defender on LeBron James.
Which makes one wonder, will Iguodala or Barnes start for the Warriors Thursday? Barnes himself said he had “no idea,” speaking on radio station 95.7 The Game, as transcribed by Diamond Leung of the San Jose Mercury News.
“I’m going to be ready to play Game 1 of the Finals whether I play 20 minutes off the bench, whether I start and play 35,” Barnes said. “Whatever it is, I’m going to do my job because there is no better feeling than hoisting that championship trophy.”
The Warriors have bought into a culture of sacrifice — role players such as Barnes will give up minutes or shots if it gets the team closer to a win. This is rare enough in the NBA, but Barnes is a restricted free agent this summer and plenty of players would be looking to put up numbers to make sure they get paid rather than thinking big picture and happily following what the coach says.
Barnes will get paid no matter what — he’s the kind of player a number of teams with cap space will try to poach. With Draymond Green and Klay Thompson already paid handsomely, and Stephen Curry up for a max next summer, it’s not going to be easy for the Warriors to keep everyone together. If the Warriors match deals to keep Barnes and Festus Ezeli this summer (also a restricted free agent), it will not be easy to pay Andrew Bogut and Iguodala next summer. There are decisions to make. (And that’s all assuming Kevin Durant stays in OKC and doesn’t decide to come West.)
All of this means Barnes is going to make a lot of money somewhere next season; the only question is will he have one championship ring or two. He’s willing to make sacrifices to get the second.