It’s going to be a big offseason for the Sacramento Kings. General manager Monte McNair will need to make some changes to the roster if he wants to help the franchise end its 15-season playoff drought.
McNair has preached financial flexibility since he was hired to replace Vlade Divac. To attain that goal, McNair will likely have to be active on the trade market during the offseason.
Sacramento has roughly $82.5 million in salary committed to De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley III, and Harrison Barnes for the 2021-22 campaign. Fox remains a foundational piece who likely isn’t going anywhere, which leaves Hield, Bagley, and Barnes.
Barnes could be an attractive target for a team looking for a veteran wing. The 29-year-old had a strong season for the Kings. He averaged 16.1 points and set new career highs in rebounds (6.6), assists (3.7) and field goal percentage (49.7).
Barnes missed the final 11 games of the season with a groin injury but was a big reason why Sacramento hung around the play-in race as long as it did. His minus 1.8 net rating was third-best out of any King who appeared in more than 20 games.
Sacramento’s offensive rating was 7.2 points better per 100 possessions with Barnes on the court. Barnes played more aggressively last season and was a valuable contributor when the Kings were at their best.
He averaged 18.1 points in games that Sacramento won, which was second to only Fox. Barnes’ scoring average dropped to 14.1 in losses, per NBA.com. Barnes’ presence on the roster goes beyond the numbers.
The Kings rely on Barnes for his leadership, and he remains a staple in the community off the court. The decision to move on from Barnes might not be a popular one, but if McNair can’t find any takers for Hield, the next logical step to shed salary would be to move Barnes.
He is still owed roughly $38.5 million over the final two years of his contract and could be an enticing option for a team like Minnesota Timberwolves, who are reportedly in the market to add some experience to their lineup.
The return for Barnes might be underwhelming, but McNair could surely add a young piece plus obtain some future assets, which will help with the financial side of things. There is pressure from the fanbase to get back into the playoffs, but losing a piece like Barnes might be the better option for the long run.
Do you think Barnes will be back next season?