You know the mantra "if it ain't broke, don't fix it?" With the Sacramento Kings now six-games over (.500) the question that still arises among most people is the decision of keeping or trading veteran forward Harrison Barnes.
The former NBA champion has reached the final year of his contract and many believe that if the Kings were looking to improve their roster, trading away Barnes would be their best way to get back a good return. My counter question to those who ask to trade Barnes is who comes back in a return that takes this team to the next level?
I’ve come up with multiple trades here on this site multiple times about deals to get done, and the biggest name in any return that seemed plausible was Washington forward, Kyle Kuzma. However, that was early in the season when the Kings were still finding their legs and Barnes was off to a slow start to the season. With the forward now averaging 15.2 points and 5 rebounds per game; does trading for Kuzma really make that much sense for this team looking for a consistent third option? I say no.
Look, having one year left on the deal for Barnes definitely puts a question mark heading into the offseason on if the team could lose him for nothing. The Phoenix Suns are a team who has shown interest in Barnes for awhile and was linked to the Kings during this past offseason for a deal that would send Barnes over for potentially Jae Crowder. At 30 years old, Barnes could look to join a team that’s a championship contender while still in his prime.
But does a guy like Kuzma or Crowder take the Kings to that next level? The answer seems to be a clear no. Barnes has shown that he can knock down a consistent three-pointer (averaging 1.6 3-pointers per game) and is capable of finishing off dribble drives, DHOs and one-on-one in the post. His ability to switch and defend both forward position is something that is also such a great asset to this team. Barnes is even growing as a screen and roller. Look at this play as he sets an off-screen for De’Aaron Fox rolls and is found by Domantas Sabonis for the layup.
Love this play from the Kings to counter ORL's coverage.— Brenden Nunes (@BrendenNunesNBA) January 10, 2023
They fake the double drag and let Domantas Sabonis find the slipping Harrison Barnes in a high-low action of sorts. pic.twitter.com/S9y5A8e3fZ
Here’s what you all voted on for a Harrison Barnes trade:
It’s without question that Sacramento (who ranks 25th in the NBA in defensive efficiency) needs to find a way to acquire players that can help improve that area, but Barnes would not be viewed as one of those negatives as he’s shown that he’s willing to defend the best guys on every team. Mike Brown has even awarded Barnes their Defensive Player of the Game chain multiple times this season.
Breaking chemistry, getting the new player up to speed on their offensive sets and gameplan; all of that stuff takes time. Right now the Kings are hot and hard to stop. It may not always be pretty, but this team can score with the best of them with Sacramento having a clear need for what Barnes brings. The one thing that doesn’t get talked about enough is the fact that away from the on-court play that the former Tar Heel brings, Barnes also provides the veteran leadership and playoff experience to this Kings team full of players with little to no playoff experience.
Now I’m not ruling out any deals for Harrison Barnes. Toronto’s forward O.G. Anunoby has been rumored to be targeted by many teams if the Raptors do look to rebuild, but that seems more like a pipe dream rather than a reachable deal.
A winning season for the Kings will be making the playoffs and breaking that 16-year drought that hangs over this franchise like a dark cloud. There’s no telling what the offseason could bring in terms of Barnes and his future with Sacramento, but the goal is to win and win now. Barnes is a key part of this team and moving on from him for a player in your head that you think could be better doesn’t mean it’s always going to work out.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.