Is Harrison Barnes worth a max contract?
Golden State’s starting small forward is a restricted free agent this summer, in a market awash with cash. He’s young, athletic, has been to the mountaintop, and is exactly the kind of player other teams will try to poach. But doing that — and keeping him — will mean max or near max money.
Will Golden State match? It depends on a lot of things, including in part what Kevin Durant decides.
How is Barnes dealing with it? He spoke to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com.
“It’s out of my control,” Barnes said. “People say, ‘Do you want to be here in Golden State?’ A lot of it is, look, I love Golden State. I’d love to be here. But there’s also some other factors that factor into that, you know what I’m saying?”
If Durant decides to listen to other teams, the Warriors have long been reported to be at the front of the line. But if they add another max salary — and they will have to give Stephen Curry one in the 2017 summer — keeping Barnes is almost out of the question.
However, if Durant is not in the picture, expect the Warriors to match — why would you break up this core? Durant would be the only reason. The Warriors would like to keep Barnes, even at a steep price. He’s a starter on a team that very well could have two rings soon. Continuity has value.
For Barnes, that may be max value.