Last season, the Sacramento Kings held onto Harrison Barnes past the trade deadline with the hope that he’d be a stabilizing veteran presence for the team the following season, when they’d have another opportunity to make a playoff push.
While Barnes has had a productive 2021-22 campaign, the Kings are 6.5 games out of the final play-in spot in the Western Conference. For that reason, Barnes and the rest of the Kings’ veteran players are expected to be traded at the deadline, and according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, the New Orleans Pelicans are keeping tabs on Barnes:
The Pelicans are also said to be revisiting a trade package for Sacramento’s Harrison Barnes that was discussed as a potential sign-and-trade for Josh Hart this past offseason.
From a contract perspective, a straight Barnes for Hart trade doesn’t work, so the Pelicans would have to send back another player. Trey Murphy III would be an interesting piece for the Kings, but his contract alone wouldn’t be enough to make the numbers work.
If both sides can find a workable deal, it would be hard to argue against it. Hart, though technically another guard, would bring a completely different dynamic to the team because of his defensive versatility and nose for the boards. He’d help immediately.
As for Barnes, it’s unlikely he’ll start for the Pelicans when Zion Williamson returns (whenever that is), but he’d undoubtedly make them better in the short and long-term.
It’s unclear what stopped both teams from completing this deal in the offseason, but their places in the standings may motivate them to get it done before the trade deadline.