Throughout most of the offseason, it was unclear whether Harrison Barnes would be on this Kings team coming into the season since the 30-year old—whose name has been tossed around in trade buzz quite often—is heading into the final year of his deal.
A veteran piece like Barnes always presents the possibility of liquidating that talent in order to bolster depth, so not only would it not have been surprising, it could have made the team better if the right deal had come along.
With less than two weeks until the start of training camp, it appears Barnes is bound to don a Kings uniform once again this season. The feelings on this might be mixed, but don’t seem particularly strong.
Barnes is a rock in the locker room, a champion worth emulating, and a steady, net-positive force on the floor, particularly on the offensive end. And this year, with more depth around him, it will be interesting to see what he can do with less of a load on his shoulders and an experienced and adequate (at bare minimum) backup in Bazemore behind him.
But Barnes also has his limitations; there’s only so much he can provide given his more conservative approach and tendency to wear down by the end of the year. Whether or not he is a worthy third option for a team aiming for the playoffs in a tough conference is not an encouraging topic of reflection for a lot of fans.
In other words, the Kings could have gotten better had the right deal come along. At the same time, Barnes is good enough for the front office to maintain patience and poise in order to avoid hastily agreeing to a subpar—dare we say Vlade-esque—deal.
Nevertheless, the matter of Harrison Barnes was always interesting, and the intrigue provided by the prospect that a deal could’ve easily gone down gets imaginations running.
If the Kings dealt Barnes, what would it have looked like?
It is hard to say given the fact no substantiated rumors or reports came out to offer any insight.
Of course, we know there was a lot of breath expended in talks about a potential trade for Atlanta’s John Collins, but reports indicated that Sacramento’s offers were viewed as “underwhelming.”
Was there anything else involving Barnes that was gaining momentum?
According to a podcaster who covers the Phoenix Suns named Mike Vigil, a deal that could have sent Barnes to the Valley of the Sun was close to happening.
To be clear, this is unconfirmed information. Even Vigil makes that known, but the podcaster admits that the information can’t be entirely discounted because it comes from “multiple people” in whom he has “trust.”
Whether or not that is true may be unknown, but happens to be true that when the Durant mania was sweeping across the NBA world this summer, the Suns were one of the teams said to have prominent connections to a possible trade for the superstar.
There’s no use diving too deeply into freestyle speculation to try and guess what the Kings-Suns deal would include—though it wouldn’t be crazy to assume the Kings would’ve gotten Jae Crowder and another player, or something along those lines—so the question shifts.
According to this rumor, the lifespan of the negotiations between the Kings and Suns coincided with the Durant drama, halting in tandem. There was obviously a connection between the two sets of negotiations if this rumor is indeed true.
Responding to comments, Vigil noted his “assumption” that Sacramento “thought they could get more from a desperate Suns [team].”
Another commenter was Jordan Kartchner, who has sporadically contributed to the site ZonaHoops, shared what he’s “heard from someone.” Again, the validity is not known, and Vigil made sure to say that Kartchner’s read of the situation is separate from his tweet.
Kartchner’s feeling latches onto the principle of supply and demand, which is not a crazy concept when you’re grasping at straws. The idea that the asking price for Barnes would shoot up the moment the option for Durant was taken off the table makes sense, and equally so, the fact the Suns wouldn’t bite on such a deal also adds up.
As is known, no trade occurred, but does this indicate anything for the future?
If the truth of the matter is anything close to what is being laid out by Vigil and Kartchner—and, again, we don’t know—then it stands to reason that a Barnes trade could still go down this season.
If the Kings think they could have gotten more than an adequate package in return for Barnes because the Suns were desperate, then couldn’t that potentiality still occur under the right circumstances? Not necessarily with Phoenix, but anyone. Injuries happen and realities can change on the flip of a switch for teams.
Another way to put it is, that if a team was desperate enough for some help at the small forward position, it’s not delusional to think the Kings could get a worthy return.
Granted, a few things should be considered before seeing that as anything close to a sure thing. For one, if a team is looking for small forward help, it’s not exactly probable the Kings would be getting a wing, let alone two, in return.
Also, if the Kings are open to trading Barnes mid-season, would they do so if they were in playoff contention? Would they risk disrupting chemistry and feel, and would it be worth it?
It’s hard to say, especially when the exact reality of this rumor remains a mystery. Though, nobody would have been surprised had a deal between Sacramento and Phoenix been completed. Conversely, there’d be no shock to still see him on the Kings until he hits free agency.
All it comes down to is whether there is sufficient return. It seems the Kings would trade Barnes if they can improve as a direct result, it’s just that opportunity does not seem to have come about.
For now, though, Harrison Barnes will continue to be an important part of this Kings team as the quest to end the playoff drought commences.