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Season Review: Harrison Barnes

Barnes' steady play throughout the year is overshadowed by how the season ended.
By | 48 Comments | Jun 5, 2023

Jan 18, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes (40) dribbles the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first half at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As we continue our Season Review series, we turn next to Harrison Barnes.

Harrison Barnes had a horrible start the season. There was a genuine concern that the Kings might have waited a year too long to trade Barnes, and he was now nothing more than a shell of his former self. It was a miserable start to the year.

But Barnes pretty quickly managed to right the ship and have a very solid season. Although his counting stats and 3 PT% were down from the previous two years, Barnes was also in a smaller role than he had been previously, and was a key component to Sacramento’s success this year. Barnes was the steady veteran, providing locker room leadership and a calming effect on the floor. Barnes appeared in 82 games and put up 15 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 0.7 steals per game. Barnes also saw an uptick in his 2 PT% this year.

But then the early-season of Harrison Barnes reared its ugly head at the most inopportune time, with Barnes struggling mightily in the playoff series against the Golden State Warriors. In that 7-game series, Barnes average 10.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 0.7 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. For the series Barnes shot 24% from 3 (compared to 37.4% in the regular season), and just 41.7% overall. No shot stands out more than Barnes’ missed three at the end of Game 4, which would have put the Kings up 3-1 in the series.

That poor showing left an awful taste in the mouths of Kings fans and threw Barnes’ future with the team into jeopardy, at least among the armchair GMs. But that bad series also highlights how important Barnes was for the Kings this year. When Barnes played well, it was rare to see the Kings lose. A good game from Barnes unlocked everything. Those were the games when the team was firing on all cylinders.

But Barnes’ future with the Kings is still in doubt. Barnes is an unrestricted free agent this summer. There were reports during the playoffs that there was mutual interest in Barnes returning to the Kings. But Barnes’ lack of defensive prowess and rebounding causes issues when playing alongside Domantas Sabonis, and Barnes’ shooting was less reliable than years past. There’s also the overlap of Barnes and Keegan Murray and (if he comes over) Sasha Vezenkov. All three players have similar abilities to space the floor as a shooting forward, but all have the same issues regarding an inability to defend wings, rebound, or protect the rim. Do the Kings want to commit more long term money to Barnes when he doesn’t improve the areas they most need to improve?

Ultimately it probably comes down to how much money Barnes is seeking, and what kind of role he wants to have going forward. Jerry Reynolds suggested on a recent episode of The Kings Herald show that he’d like to retain Barnes as a bench player. And if the money makes sense and Barnes is willing to accept that role, I would agree! Barnes is still a valuable player. Similar to how much better Barnes seemed as the Kings 3rd or 4th option on offense rather than the 2nd option, I think our perceptions of him would change dramatically if he was providing his skills as part of a more robust bench unit.

One of the biggest question marks for the Kings front office this summer will be whether to re-sign Barnes, sign-and-trade Barnes, or simply allow Barnes to walk. I don’t know the right answer. Barnes is a good player and has been a consummate professional in Sacramento. It’s unclear if there’s an opportunity to improve the team without keeping Barnes around.

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RikSmits
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June 5, 2023 1:18 pm

<div class=”tenor-gif-embed” data-postid=”9751403″ data-share-method=”host” data-aspect-ratio=”1.66667″ data-width=”100%”><a href=”https://tenor.com/view/jason-momoa-chair-interested-gif-9751403″>Jason Momoa Chair GIF</a>from <a href=”https://tenor.com/search/jason+momoa-gifs”>Jason Momoa GIFs</a></div> <script type=”text/javascript” async src=”https://tenor.com/embed.js”></script>

Last edited 1 year ago by RikSmits
ManilaBayCleanerCrew
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June 6, 2023 4:10 am
Reply to  RikSmits

Wut?

RikSmits
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June 6, 2023 8:16 am

Oops.
This:
comment image

EastCoastKingsFan
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June 7, 2023 8:14 am
Reply to  RikSmits

All this time and I had no idea that was Jason Momoa! mind blown

RobHessing
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June 5, 2023 1:19 pm

Barnes’ durability and dependability have always been vastly underrated/overlooked. If he never plays another game for the Kings, he is leaving it a lot better than he found it.

Harrison Barnes. Good King.

AnybodyButBagley
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June 5, 2023 1:23 pm

Harrison Barnes and Sabonis are the BBIQ of this team.

Pay the man and let him reap his rewards for silently suffering for so many years.

TheGrantNapear
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June 5, 2023 3:02 pm

Suffering how so?
He got paid to play basketball and he did just that whilst being a valuable Sac community member, I highly doubt he was suffering.
Contracts are given out for expected future performance, not for the past. The last thing a franchise like the Kings who have never won anything should be doing is handing out legacy contracts.

AnybodyButBagley
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June 5, 2023 10:19 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

Who said anything about a legacy contract?

Players play today to earn their next contract. He definitely earned a good contract for a player of his caliber at his point in his career.

He suffered….he never once publicly asked for a trade or complained about the idiots that surrounded him. A true professional with a desire to win that wasn’t allowed to win.

Bryant
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June 5, 2023 1:45 pm

If the Kings have a way to get a starting 4 and don’t have to sign-and-trade Barnes to GET that starting 4, he’d be awesome off the bench and in the lockerroom. If not, keeping him on a smaller contract isn’t a bad outcome. But keeping Barnes and assuming he could/should be your starter moving forward would lead to playoff hubris, in my book.

mdeedublu
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June 5, 2023 9:16 pm
Reply to  Bryant

I think this would be the ideal situation

RikSmits
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June 6, 2023 8:31 am
Reply to  Bryant

There seems to be this idea (not necessarily you, Bryant) that getting a weak-side shotblocking, 3 point shooting 4 will cure most of our ills.

Apart from the question of how much of such guys are attainable at the right price, I think it is wishful thinking that ignores our main defensive problem; the lack of resistance at the point of attack. As long as opposing guards are blowing by our guards, we’ll be scrambling and out of position. It happened to Sabonis against the Warriors and will happen to the shotblocking 4 if we keep allowing line drives towards the rim.

You need a shotblocker with a significant wingspan and great defensive instincts, as well as really crisp defensive team rotations to overcome such defensive breakdowns, with the shotblocker being good enough on offense to punish defenses sagging off of him. There aren’t many Bam’s in the league.

The main defensive improvement will have to come from Fox (who showed glimpses in the play-offs), Huerter and Monk, or otherwise Davion has to make a leap offensively.

Just my 2 cents.

AnybodyButBagley
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June 6, 2023 9:01 am
Reply to  RikSmits

You mean two people driving to the basket and the center cannot be defended by one center?

RikSmits
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June 6, 2023 9:53 am

One people driving to the basket, I think you mean, can be defended by one center, but that center (or PF) then is out of position to rebound and to defend his own guy.

AnybodyButBagley
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June 6, 2023 12:29 pm
Reply to  RikSmits

Yeah….that is what I meant. But most of the time is two people going to the basket against the Kings. The guard with the ball and the other guard that nobody is defending looking for an easy layup off of a pass from the inside.

eddie41
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June 5, 2023 1:48 pm

HB was great this year. Kept the team on track during some regular season games. Got to the line a lot. Solid veteran presence. However, I’m not sure if he’ll be on the team next year. I think he and Keegan are both SF’s and Keegan is ready for an increased role. As much as I like the idea of HB returning in a bench role on a bargain deal, there are probably other teams in need of a starting SF who will offer more money.

TheGrantNapear
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June 5, 2023 3:04 pm
Reply to  eddie41

Hopefully Monte can sign and trade him and obtain a 3 and D wing or a 4 that fits next to Domas.

AnybodyButBagley
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June 5, 2023 10:22 pm
Reply to  eddie41

He isn’t the best but very few players within the Kings reach bump him from the starting rotation.

eddie41
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June 6, 2023 10:00 am

I sort of agree with that. But some people have mentioned Naz Reid who is within reach because the TWolves can only offer him the mid-level exception, and what about Trey Lyles?

That would be an interesting discussion: who is the better PF next to Keegan and Domas? HB or Lyles?

ArcoThunder
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June 6, 2023 3:12 pm
Reply to  eddie41

There’s definitely part of me that sees Lyles starting at PF and the team maybe being better.

its fucking risky but I don’t think it’s an insane thought/possibility.

TheGrantNapear
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June 5, 2023 3:00 pm

I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Reynolds on HB. If HB accepts a bench role on a team friendly contract, I welcome him back. If he’s looking for one last monster contract and a starting gig, I’d try to SnT him or let him walk.
My sense is HB ends up on another team. I could see up and coming teams that need an adult in the locker room who can still play being interested (Grizz, NOP, OKC, to name a few).
Conveniently, these teams have a plethora of assets that would interest MM.

andy_sims
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June 5, 2023 9:03 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

I’d like to keep Barnes in a reduced capacity and fair contract, but I don’t think he’d want to sign with another young team doing a rebuild. His perfect role would seem to be as a key rotation player on a playoff team, and for the first time in forever, he could do that by staying in Sacramento.

I hope he decides to stay, Barnes is exactly the kind of person that you want in your organization and community.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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June 5, 2023 3:36 pm

What are the realistic chances of a UFA sign and trade for the likes of Barnes? In my mind it doesn’t happen too often, especially with mid-level UFAs. I can think of times that it has happened with max salary players to maximize their Bird Rights like Durant to Brooklyn and Hayward to the Hornets, but I can’t recall a guy like Barnes taking a similar path.

A few things have to happen to make it successful for all parties. 1) the other team has to have the free cap space to offer Barnes a deal, much like they would for a RFA. 2) The other team would have to have assets the Kings want sent back AND the willingness to do so. 3) Barnes would have to sign off on it as well.

So how many destinations have the ability to offer the contract, fit Barnes desires, and have assets to kick back in return. I’m honestly drawing a blank.

Last edited 1 year ago by Adamsite
murraytant
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June 5, 2023 4:03 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

to do a sign and trade for HB, a team would have to want him and fear that they could lose him to a competitor. Thus, there is a need for 2 teams to compete. Otherwise, the single team can just make an offer and see if he bites on it. And then he goes for “nothing”.
The Kings can retain him but he would probably have to accept a Kings offer lower than the potential higher one from another team.
If he is retained, I would like to see him on the bench- running next year back with the same starting 5 will, get, at best, the same results. Either the Kings sign Sasha and he “wins” the 4 spot or they get a FA who wins that spot.
HB is a great guy to have- steady, experienced, an adult. That’s a huge part of his value. On the court, however, Lyles has more value with less cost.
A team can never have too few of assets and the Kings cannot afford to just let an asset go for nothing.

The team has needs: rim protection, support for DS, a big guard off the bench, more athletic wings….. Can he be “”used” to get any of that?

Jack
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June 5, 2023 5:25 pm
Reply to  murraytant

IMO this is going to one of Monty’s hardest decisions. Just to start things off we really need a starting 4 to go along with Sabonis. If we let Barnes be a free agent and he gets a reasonable offer then I would let him go. With that money and letting the other free agents go you should have enough to get say a Naz Reid or Christian Wood. Either could start at the 4. One other hypothetical trade idea. Since Poelti is a free agent and might leave the Raptors a trade say Holmes and our 2 seconds for Chris Boucher. He would be a good backup center and the cost works.

Sacto_J
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June 5, 2023 5:41 pm

I have appreciated most everything about HB during his tenure in Sacramento, he’s been an excellent King.
The time has come to make some hard decisions, that’s for sure. There are only so many starting spots and rotational pieces you can upgrade. Moving HB to the bench certainly is an upgrade in one aspect. But how do you upgrade his vacancy on the starting 5? Does a guy like TJD make the starting 5 better? Does any draft pick? Do you sign HB and trade the pick and more for an upgrade? Who might that be? I look forward to seeing Monte’s plan laid out, I hate this time of year. Nothing but unanswered questions of the 3-5 month variety.

nonstripedzebra
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June 6, 2023 7:39 am
Reply to  Sacto_J

My thinking is this. Yes, Barnes and a player switchable in the frontcourt/backcourt is the glaring area of improvement in the starting unit for title aspirations. Also though welcome to the NBA. Thats a lot of teams dilemma. This is the profile that is the last piece for a lot of teams trying to push over the top. And yet the positional pool is the thinnest in the league.

I see it as this, is Barnes expiring cap space more valuable this summer then his likely next deal on the books? and I think the short answer is no. If Green is interested in FA maybe, I guess partially the same with Kuzma. But I doubt either of those are likely. If a Finney Smith trade could happen with this drafts assets and Holmes I get addressing other areas in FA with newfound cap space. But I would say all of those options seem unlikely.

In turn we have still an arguable top 15 player as a third wing. And in a league with scarcity issues in his profile thats an asset. The playoff showing may also knock down an internal extension. All helpful in larger cap discussions.

The main point is retaining does not necessarily mean he is a longterm answer. In the same token the idea that Barnes free’d up money will fetch something better then him in the immediate I think is lofty. And the big swing upgrade trades I dont think we are quite in a position to make.

I think thats a year away still, and would be predicated on picks or other players, and would likely needing matching salary. Im not comfortable throwing in prospects yet and the ATL protection nulls a lot of all in trades. Next summer I think is likely a better context to make that addition. Again something Barnes on a decent number could aid or at least not hinder.

At this point i lean towards extending.

Last edited 1 year ago by nonstripedzebra
Sacto_J
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June 10, 2023 2:29 pm

Solid take. I’m not against the idea, especially if we keep whatever draft assets we get and double especially if any of them turn out to be role players.

Hobby916
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June 5, 2023 7:00 pm

Future financial decisions will probably be the driving force in retaining Barnes or not.

Fox has a max deal, Sabonis could sign one next offseason, and Keegan has an extension in a few years. Monk has 1 year left on his deal.

Barnes was fine this season. Not sure how high the ceiling is with him as a starter moving forward

cloudyeyes
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June 5, 2023 7:25 pm

Priority should first be re-signing Trey….and then Barnes to a bench role. The Kings should entertain signing other free agents before picking up Barnes. Would love to see if the Kings could pry Cameron Johnson from the Nets.

Last edited 1 year ago by cloudyeyes
UpgradedToQuestionable
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June 5, 2023 9:11 pm

The Harrison Barnes I see is a player who was the third best starter on the 3rd placed team in the Western Conference.

He scored inside and outside, he often defended the opposing team’s best non-Center front court player, was a smart decision maker in-game and was clutch at FT and can create his own offense to some extent.

He played 82 games and was solid in every category (rebs, points, WS, TS%, etc.)

He represents, to me – team stability. He is the Champion Veteran. He turned 31 last week but is a physical specimen.

There are many facets for this team to show improvement after an amazing 18 game jump into next season.

“Trading up for talent” is a sensible strategy. I will argue that improving the talent you have is a better fit for Sacramento as much as adding talent to the areas of need (Backup for Domas, rebounding, Interior defense). Being a stable team may be the better next step than flipping chips like a fantasy League GM.

Thrusting Keegan and Sasha Vezenkov into full on starting roles and ditching Harrison Barnes is a gamble that seems ripe for disappointment.

Just my opinion – Harrison Barnes is your starting forward 2023-24.

Did he have a sour playoffs – hell, yes. So did Kevin Huerter. You going to trade him too?

For The Kings to get better, deeper in the playoffs, can Harrison Barnes be your 3rd best player? This April’s playoffs says no. But rather than rid the Kings of this asset, they need to elevate Keegan and Kevin (and Davion and Kessler) -AND get a front court back up for Sabonis. When Barnes is your 5th best or 6th best player, the Kings will be on pace to be a force in the League. And that takes seasons, and likely not next one.

HongKongKingsFan
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June 6, 2023 1:47 am

Yes. I agree with most parts you said.
This team just get into Playoffs, and we definitely need stability and maintain a longtime and longterm regular Playoffs team, (which pretty like what Monte said)

and we’d better keep the same roster (at least for the 8 man rotation players, Lyles, Mitchell, Monk) to start another season.

Ellis5
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June 6, 2023 1:13 am

Harrison Barnes,,,,,, Everything you literally want in a professional NBA player. I want him…… On my team.

Jack
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June 6, 2023 7:23 am
Reply to  Ellis5

I do too but not at 31 and some where around 15 mil a year. Use that cap space plus other 4 free agents and get a starting 4 like a Reid at 23 and improving , Wood at 27 or maybe a Kuzma at 27, All really good players.

nonstripedzebra
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June 6, 2023 10:53 am
Reply to  Jack

The best free agent in Sacramento history was Vlade at 30 off a 10 point season. I don’t think Kuzma would turn his head or do so with value in mind. He may make twice what Barnes will on this next deal. He is a marginal improvement. And I am less convinced Reid is as seamless as a fit in starting units as some. At least to drastic improvement or value. Wood is essentially non considerable personally. Green if GSW get wary I think would be deserving of a discussion if interested and if we could get to a number plausibly.

I dont know, I do think Barnes role is possibly deserving of scrutiny but I divorce that from an extension. Is he more valuable as a player then the cap space to us, especially in this class of FA’s, and I return to likely yes. Does another year with this core likely clarify positional roles, especially Murray at the 3 or 4 I would think so. And in larger trade acquisition to push us over, I think we will likely have more options next summer with our Hawks commitment settled and thus more draft capital. At a mid level Barnes may prove necessary in salary matching for such a deal.

He is still a plus starter whose value has likely been diminished from a poor playoff showing, who we know likely aids another 40+ win season. IDK I just dont think this is the moment to leverage drastic improvement besides in very specific scenerios.

If Monte could split the difference in a buy low trade and thus parlay the freed up room elsewhere, maybe. Finney Smith would fit that vein. Maybe Holmes and this years first and some 2nds? Save some cap space having a viable plus starter locked up on great value and then use HB walking on multiple heads in FA. But I dont think the Nets do that.

Personally I lean towards retention and sorting improvement in-season or next summer.

Last edited 1 year ago by nonstripedzebra
ArcoThunder
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June 6, 2023 3:35 am

#1.) I really like Barnes

#2.) in a perfect world he is still on the team for 15 million a year.

#3.) Monte needs to go all in for a starter that immediately makes the starting 5 better. The guy to replace in that starting 5 is Barnes. Starters = Domas, new guy, Keegan, Heurter, Fox.

#4.) Neemias is your back up big. HE’S EARNED IT. Im not sure what more we could ask for as a backup big for this team to get better. The cost of Neemias + his production if given the reigns as backup big 10-15 minutes a night is EXACTLY what allows this team to make another jump. Instead of using cap space on a backup big man who’s not as good as Neemias spend that money towards a new starter to replace Barnes in the starting lineup.

#5.) Bench unit of Neemias, Barnes, Lyles, Vizenkov, Monk, Davion, Edwards, and Keon Ellis is very very very solid. These guys plus the 4 returning starters = 12 roster pots. Add in the new starting PF that signs as a free agent or is acquired through trading our draft picks + Holmes and you’re at 13 roster spots. The final two slots to equal 15 players on the roster can go to Vets on minimum deals, a rookie that was just drafted or players like PJ Dozier as an example.

Last edited 1 year ago by ArcoThunder
49taylaners
June 6, 2023 6:17 am
Reply to  ArcoThunder

The biggest question is will that team take you past the 1st round? Possibly, if the “new
guy” is a Jaylen Brown or Naz Reid ( I like Cameron Johnson) and in order to obtain them, you have to trade for them, whether it’s Davion, Huerter, S&T Barnes, first round pick. I like HB as well, but at 12 million/year as a bench player.

Jack
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June 6, 2023 7:01 am
Reply to  49taylaners

With Barnes as a free agent and the other 4 free agents let them go except if Barnes gets a good offer then we have IMO enough cap space to get a Reid or a Christian Wood but not a Brown or Johnson. With either of the two would be a starter next to Sabonis. I also would look a Kuzma but IMO he will be asking too much. He says he wants to go to a contender. What to do with Harrison will be one of Monty’s biggest question this year. NBA basketball is a business as I have said before. Monty knows this and I trust him to do the right move. He is in the drivers seat not us.

Jack
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June 6, 2023 7:05 am
Reply to  Jack

I can’t see Vezenkov as a starter at first. He hasn’t earned that spot yet. Time will tell if and when he comes over.

Jack
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June 6, 2023 7:13 am
Reply to  Jack

Another PS sorry. Queta as a backup to Sabonis is intriguing. I haven’t followed his progress but certainly has earned the spot. If so that would be great. Also if you guys want a third backup at point guard IMO we have one in our system. Keon Ellis at 6′ 6″ can play defense and shoots the 3 well.

bjax1
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June 6, 2023 8:05 am

I think we need to be careful about recency bias. HB’s last half of the series was not great, but he had some big shots early, including a late 3 in game one to hold off the Dubs. Whatever happens, he’s a top King (and person) in my book.

aplumley
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June 6, 2023 8:30 am

Barnes was a solid starting combo forward that brings a lot to the team. He can get buckets in the post, driving to the basket, or spot up 3s. He can defend multiple positions and is a great mentor. He lacks rebounding and shot blocking but I’m not sure there is a better option. There are opportunities to upgrade the roster, and maybe there’s a better option than Barnes, but I’m not disappointed if we run it back with him, as long as the deal isn’t an overpay for a guy that will likely see production decline in the coming years.

Jack
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June 6, 2023 8:55 am
Reply to  aplumley

If I could I would like to discuss what I think is a very important if not IMO the most important improvement the Kings can make this summer. It is internal. During the playoffs the Warriors packed the paint and let Sabonis stay at the top of the key or there abouts keeping him out of the middle. One of Sabonis’s strengths is his passing. With the middle cloughed his assists ratio went way down. IMO Sabonis as great as he is is also unselfish to the point that he didn’t use this as a strength. If he works on those shots from 12 to 15 feet which he didn’t do during the playoffs and becomes a little more selfish and learns to shoot those shots then the other team has to come out which leaves those passing lanes open. More points for Sabonis as well as assists and more points for the Kings with cuts backdoors and screens. He can also attack the rim for layups which he also needs to work on but that’s another time. He can also attack the basket for rebounds plus if we can get a #4 who also rebounds this leaves him oppotunities as well.

aplumley
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June 6, 2023 9:58 am
Reply to  Jack

100%. Sabonis’ unwillingness and/or inability to take/make midrange shots was the difference in that series. Completely neutralized him.

ArcoThunder
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June 6, 2023 3:05 pm
Reply to  Jack

Well said. I would not be mad if they ran it back. In fact, I’d be all in on them retaining Barnes, bringing in vizenkov and adding new depth to fit better with the 10-12 guys you have as regular rotation pieces.

100% all in.

However, finding a new starting PF and moving Barnes to the 6th man role would be much more exciting.

improving internally for Sabonis and the other guys (particularly Spock) will go a really really really long way to making an extended run in the playoffs.

Klam
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June 6, 2023 12:11 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Is there a reason the tweets don’t show up as a graphic anymore when we post the link?

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
June 6, 2023 12:38 pm
Reply to  Klam

I was wondering the same thing. You used to be able to just copy the web address the tweet and they showed up. Not sure why that doesn’t work anymore.

ArcoThunder
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June 6, 2023 3:07 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I could completely get behind this. Cost for production would seem to be fair. He does what we need, be a backup that blocks shots and rebounds. Fine with me.

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