While the Golden State Warriors await word of what Kevin Durant will do, their starting small forward is getting a big offer of his own. ESPN reports that the Dallas Mavericks are set to offer Harrison Barnes a max deal -- 4 years, $95 million -- when they are available to do so on July 7th.
Barnes, 24, averaged 11.7 points on 47-percent shooting and 38 percent from deep along with 4.9 rebounds per game. Not exactly max numbers, but the idea has been for a long time that Barnes, who has proven to be multi-skilled, can expand his game when he's not the fourth or fifth best player in every lineup, as he is with Golden State.
Dallas, meanwhile, whiffed on Mike Conley, whiffed on Hassan Whiteside, and lost Chandler Parsons to Memphis. So they need to swing for the fences on any available free agent with any value, and Barnes is the only one with upside that might be worth it.
They are determined not to give big money to older players, but are fine with giving Barnes the max. That's kind of where their heads are at.
Here's what you need to know about this situation:
1. The Warriors are expected to match
This has been telegraphed for a while. Warriors ownership has said -- in what almost seems like a question of pride -- that they want to keep Barnes if they don't get an upgrade. This is assuming they don't get Kevin Durant. If they get Durant, they'll go to Barnes' house and help him pack his bags. If not, they plan to match the offer.
2. For the Mavericks, it's worth the risk.
If Durant signs with the Warriors, they get Barnes and can hope he blossoms with more responsibility under Rick Carlisle. It should be noted that Carlisle is low on patience and high on anger, so with Barnes' inconsistencies, this may not be a great fit, but you know Carlisle would find ways to use him effectively.
3. The Mavericks can't actually offer Barnes the deal until July 7th
After that, the Warriors have three days to match .... and Durant will likely have made his decision on July 4th, giving the Warriors ample time to decide and confirm they're matching.
If they do match, that means that Harrison Barnes -- not Draymond Green, or Steph Curry, or Klay Thompson -- will be the highest paid Warrior. This scenario is playing out all over the league with mediocre players making superstar money, but with the Warriors it could be especially difficult given the their particularly star-studded roster and Barnes' struggles in the Finals.
4. Matching would really cost the Warriors' bench
If they match for Barnes, the Warriors would have have three max players (Barnes, Green, Thompson) and another in Stephen Curry next year after they re-sign the two-time MVP. That's a huge luxury tax for Joe Lacob, even with the team's success, and it's going to severely hamper their flexibility in maintaining a quality bench which is expecting an overhaul this summer regardless.
If Dallas doesn't get Barnes... there are just not a lot of options left in free agency. This could be a rough, rough year for the Mavs.