Two years ago, Harrison Barnes was in the middle of a game against the Charlotte Hornets when he found out that he was being traded from Dallas to Sacramento. He was pulled out in the fourth quarter once the deal was finalized.
So for all the rumors, Barnes has been involved in leading into the March 25 trade deadline, it’s nothing compared to what he has already been through in his NBA career. On a recent episode of “The Ryen Russillo Podcast”, Barnes said he’s probably been part of trade rumors every year since his rookie season, so he just has to focus on what he can control and put himself in a mental space to adapt to whatever comes next.
When Russillo asked Barnes how he handles the speculation, Barnes took it in stride:
“Honestly, It’s so funny especially with my relationship with the trade deadline in recent years. Honestly, I have no idea. I check Woj’s Twitter just as much as you probably do, and I mean, he would probably be the first person to let me know if I got traded, so I honestly have no idea. I mean every rumor, you know, sometimes when there’s smoke, there’s fire, a lot of times it’s a smokescreen. So I would say it’s up in the air.”
Barnes is the player on the Kings who has been drawing the most attention since he is in the middle of a career year, has championship experience, and would fit neatly on just about any contender. The Celtics have been continuously linked to Barnes to add a third consistent forward in their rotation. Miami also makes a lot of sense as a suitor if Barnes can fill in the role Jae Crowder occupied during the Heat’s Finals run a year ago.
But even though Barnes could fetch a pretty penny, the Kings don’t seem actively interested in moving their veteran leader. Per Sam Amick of The Athletic, the Kings are somewhat reluctant to trade Barnes despite their descent in the standings:
While this is most assuredly a “gap year,” as we wrote about recently, the combination of Barnes’ play, his professionalism and his declining pay ($20.2 million next season; $18.3 million in 2022-23) is such that it will take a significant offer to pry him away. And the Kings’ ability to remain competitive, it seems, will be a factor in the decision.
Translation: A combination of late first-round draft picks and young players like the ones wearing green in Boston, it appears, likely wouldn’t be enough to get it done. The Kings are clearly still pondering the possibility of adding the kind of impact piece that they believe would put them in the playoff mix.
Does that mean Barnes won’t get moved? Never say never, but it seems the Kings are holding onto Barnes a little tighter than expected here.
Things have been bad for the Kings in recent weeks, but they would get much worse in a hurry if Barnes were gone. He is the only forward Luke Walton trusts, though Nemanja Bjelica has gotten more run with the current spate of injuries, and Sacramento would have to play DaQuan Jeffries heavy minutes in Barnes’ absence, or potentially more three-guard lineups. That’s a surefire recipe for a high draft pick if that’s what the Kings are looking for.
Barnes has been one of the major bright spots of the Sacramento season thus far, and he’ll assuredly have a market during the offseason if the Kings still want to proceed with their rebuild then. For now, it’s understandable why the front office would want to keep him around.