On the surface, Harrison Barnes' refusal to accept the Golden State Warriors' offer of four years, $64 million seems illogical at best, and completely heinous at worst.
What? Really? Barnes thinks he -- the guy who averaged 10.1 points and 5.5 rebounds last season -- is worth more than $16 million per season? He thinks he's worth as much, if not more, than teammates Klay Thompson and Draymond Green (No. 2 and No. 3 in the Warriors' chain of command)?
That makes absolutely no sense. Seriously. None whatsoever. Barnes is probably the sixth-best Warrior once you factor in Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut. And he thinks he should make $20-plus million per season?
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Well, yes. He's actually not wrong at all.
The market dictates what players get paid, and a player like Barnes -- who's only 23 years old and shot 40.5 percent from deep last season -- can make that much with a desperate franchise that lacks star power and/or the resources to acquire a star.
The Warriors, of course, are not that team, but Barnes is still an integral piece. He's certainly not worth that much, but if that's how much he's going to get paid, the Warriors have to determine his value to them and go from there.
Moreover, Barnes has an underrated talent defensively that might go unnoticed: his strength. From Ethan Strauss of ESPN.com:
"Barnes, as Kerr says, is "deceptively strong." He has perhaps honed it over the course of many practice sessions defending assistant coach Luke Walton. Think back to the harrowing-till-it-wasn't series against the Memphis Grizzlies, when he was asked to guard the languid mountain that is Zach Randolph. In theory, ZBo's offense should render a wing more flattened than a penguin flipper. In Barnes, though, Randolph found resistance. After the Warriors ended the series in Game 6, Barnes gave an unusually impassioned interview, punching his hand while speaking with force. "Throughout Game 3, we're just getting punched in the face [smacks hand], punched in the face [smacks hand]. I mean, you either gonna lay down or you're gonna respond."
"This is why the Warriors feel they need a player who, at first glance, might seem redundant on this roster of rangy wing-sized guys. If they want to downsize for stretches with Draymond Green at center, they'll need a wing who can handle larger opponents. From Golden State's perspective, Barnes passed that test."
Wings of Barnes' size, ability and potential don't grow on trees -- they are valuable commodities. The fact that he can defend positions 2 through 4 is invaluable in today's game. His versatility is paramount to the Dubs' positionless engine, and whether they want to or not, the Warriors will likely have to pay him as such to keep a good -- if not great -- thing going.