After years of tanking and being bottom feeders, the Philadelphia 76ers are ready to make a change. One player they have their sights set on is Harrison Barnes of the Golden State Warriors, a restricted free agent, coming off a good season but an awful NBA Finals series.
Barnes missed 16 regular season games in 2015-2016, but averaged a career high 11.7 points, as his per minute offensive numbers grew a little bit. A small forward who plays a lot of power forward (55% of the time last season) which fits very well in the Warriors no-position approach and “death lineup”, Barnes has been angling for a max extension, just like teammate Draymond Green got last year. But Barnes isn’t the defender or passer Green is, and when he had the opportunity to prove who important he is to the team, he failed.
Barnes averaged just 9.3 points on 35.2% shooting in the finals. His big opportunity came in game 5, with the chance to close the series and win the title. Green wasn’t playing, and Barnes had the spotlight on him. He shot 2-for-14 with just 5 points. He finished with 0 points in an even worse game 6, and didn’t make much of an impact in game 7, scoring 10 points on 3-for-10 shooting. He shot just 15.6% from the field, attempting 10 shots per game, on the final three games of the series.
Of course, a players merit isn’t judged by three games alone. Barnes can probably score more if he had a bigger role, but that’s not the case in Golden State. And his extension is put on the backburner until the Kevin Durant thing is sorted out. If Durant doesn’t sign with the Warriors, Barnes is going to get courted again by his own team. If Durant does sign with the Warriors, it’ll be interesting. Barnes won’t be that necessary anymore, but Golden State will need to trade players (Andrew Bogut? Andre Iguodala?), which could still leave room open for Barnes.
One team planning on extending him an offer are the 76ers, believing the Warriors won’t retain him if they sign Durant. Obviously, any offer the Sixers or other teams give Barnes can be matched by the Warriors. The Sixers can only sign Barnes to an offer sheet beginning July 8 (when the league’s annual moratorium on signings and trades is lifted), giving the Warriors three days to match the offer, or lose Barnes.
The Sixers are on the hook for just $33 million in salaries next season. They can offer Barnes more than $90 million on a four-year deal. With or without him, they need to spend about $40 million on contracts for next season to reach the NBA’s projected salary floor of $80-plus million. The highest paid player on the 76ers roster right now is Carl Landry, making $6.5 million next season. No player on the Sixers has a guaranteed deal past 2017 except for their new rookies.
The Warriors, besides their attempt to sign Durant and their question regarding Barnes, have Festus Ezeli they want to re-sign, along with Marreese Speights, Leandro Barbosa, Brandon Rush, Ian Clark, James Michael McAdoo and Anderson Varejao. There’s also the Shaun Livingston question – he can be waived by June 30 which would cut about half his salary for 2016-2017. If he’s kept on, he’ll be paid $5.7 million, as opposed to just $3 million if he’s cut. With Durant on the horizon and cap maneuvers to make, that may be important, as big as Livingston has been for them.