After the Warriors received a commitment from Kevin Durant earlier Monday, they no longer had a need for Barnes or the money to afford him, so they allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent. He already had an agreement in place with the Mavericks contingent on Durant signing with the Warriors, so Barnes didn't have to wait long to find a new team. With the Mavericks, Barnes should instantly claim the starting spot at small forward, and could represent one of the team's top scoring threats. He averaged a career-best 11.7 points to go with 4.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 three-pointers in 2015-16, and his numbers in all categories could be on the rise now that he no longer has to defer to the likes of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
Barnes is expected to sign a four-year max offer sheet with the Mavericks on Thursday, ESPN.com's Marc Stein reports.
The entire league is still waiting to see where the top free agent on the market, Kevin Durant, ultimately lands, which is expected to be revealed within the next couple of days, so Barnes will decide to wait a little bit before signing the offer sheet. The Warriors are one of a handful of teams in contention to bring Durant aboard, but if they strike out in their pursuit, there's a good chance they'd match any offer Barnes receives from the Mavericks due to the lack of other impact small forwards. Barnes wilted during the postseason, but he still achieved career-best production in 2015-16, averaging 11.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 three-pointers while shooting 46.6 percent from the field and 38.3 percent from downtown in 66 regular-season contests.
Barnes will play for Team USA during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Barnes wasn't USA Basketball's first choice for the final spot on the 12-man roster, as he's easily the least-accomplished player on the team. The small forward was projected by many to take a step forward in 2015-16 with the prospect of a big payday looming this summer for the restricted free agent, but he only made marginal improvements on his stat line during the regular season, and struggled mightily in the playoffs. In 24 postseason contests, Barnes averaged just 9.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.1 three-pointers per game while shooting 38.5 percent from the field. He'll likely struggle to find minutes in Rio behind fellow small forwards Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Jimmy Butler and Paul George.
Barnes scored 10 points (3-10 FG, 2-4 3Pt, 2-2 FT) to go with two rebounds, one assist and one steal across 29 minutes in Sunday's 93-89 Game 7 loss to the Cavaliers.
After going a combined 2-for-22 from the floor over the preceding two games, Barnes got off to an encouraging start early Sunday by hitting a three-pointer in the game's first few minutes, but it wasn't a harbinger of things to come. While he finished as a double-digit scorer, Barnes still missed several good looks down the stretch to sink the Warriors, who scored just 13 points in the fourth quarter. Once viewed as a max-contract candidate this July, when he's set to become a restricted free agent, Barnes is no longer a lock to make a run at a $100-plus million contract after wilting during the NBA Finals. He should still attract plenty of interest on the open market, but if the bidding doesn't get too out of control, Barnes could very well remain with the Warriors, who probably have a better sense of his full value than other teams do.
At a time when Barnes, who is a week away from becoming a restricted free agent, is looking to earn big dollars, the forward is shrinking. During the last two games of the series -- both of which have been close-out games for the Warriors -- Barnes has made just two of his 22 shot attempts. He's had an up-and-down season, but Barnes' has hit a slump at the worst possible time. Despite the shooting slump and reduced playing time Thursday, coach Steve Kerr told Carl Steward of the San Jose Mercury News that Barnes will start Game 7 in Oakland on Sunday and expressed confidence in the fourth-year forward.
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