Our own Jeff Cheal (@badiehard) recently asked, "How much is Harrison Barnes worth to the Warriors?"
He compared Harrison's situation to that of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who had been offered a four-year, $52M deal ($13M per year).
Harrison's game is similar in ways to Kidd-Gilchrist's. As Jeff said:
Both play elite defense, both provide specific value to their offense (Barnes shoots much better from beyond the arc, and MKG has had a serious refinement of his jump shot over time but it's starting to show much more value). But neither would be called their team's first offensive option. Both have been scrutinized for disappearing in games and neither could be called a piece that you build a franchise around.
But the question remained.
What were the Warriors willing to offer the talented-albeit-controversial (especially in GSOM comment threads), 23 year-old forward out of Ames?
Well, now we have an initial answer. A starting point, if you will.
Draymond Green recently signed a five-year, $82.5M deal ($16.5M per year).
Klay Thompson signed a four-year, $69M deal ($17.2M per year).
Around the league, there are other contracts worth comparing as well.
Kawhi Leonard is well on his way to becoming a marquee player. He is perhaps the best defender in the game (rivaled only in versatility by our own Mr. Green). He has grown in leaps and bounds as a scorer, and already has a Finals MVP under his belt. He entered the league (in the 2011 draft: four spots after Klay; nine spots after Jan Vesely, who is now out of the league #LOLWizards) as a bit of an enigma, much like Harrison. However, he quickly grew into a go-to, clutch player. His defensive ferocity, coupled with his poker-face-for-the-ages, turned him into a star.
However, Kawhi is a much better defensive player than Harrison. He is also a much better offensive player, with the proven ability to get his shot off whenever he wants (still waiting on that from Barnes, who has yet to learn how to use his explosive athleticism to get his own shot on a more consistent basis).
Leonard recently signed a five-year, $94.3M contract that kicks in this year ($18.9M per year).
So, let's say Barnes' worst-case scenario is a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist-type-ceiling, and that his best-case scenario is that of Kawhi (who for the record, is nowhere near hitting his ceiling yet — I see a monstrous year coming from him).
With both those contracts signed in the near-past, surely Harrison's payday will fall somewhere between a yearly pay average of $13M and $18.9M?
Well, $16M per IS BASICALLY RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THOSE TWO NUMBERS!!
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Another interesting development:
The Warriors reportedly made this offer while Harrison was still represented by his previous agent Jeff Weschler. Barnes saw the offer, rejected it, and then parted ways with his agent.
Am I being crazy in saying that this makes it sounds like Harrison wants significantly more than $16M a year and didn't believe that Mr. Wechsler was capable of delivering the goods?
His new agent, Jeff Schwartz, also represents Leandro Barbosa, Shaun Livingston, and LaMarcus Aldridge among others.
So, let's say that the Warriors and Harrison continue to negotiate in good faith up until the October 31st deadline, but are unable to negotiate a deal. He would then play out the year and become a restricted free agent.
Really, not the end of the world.
1.) He plays out of his mind, takes a huge leap, and some team decides to max him out. In which case, damn, we just can't pay that. Good luck heading your own team buddy! Thanks for the memories and the Senatorial quotes and that one time you drank tequila for the first time after the championship and hated it. That was pretty dang funny.
2.) He takes a mini-leap, the cap explodes, and he re-signs with the Dubs for somewhere closer to Kawhi's $18M/per deal, but not quite there.
3.) He stays the same, or even regresses slightly, and then signs something comparable (or even a little less) than the Warriors initial $16M/per offer.
Or (and I feel that this is more likely):
The Warriors and Harrison find some common ground and he ends up signing before the October 31st deadline, somewhere in the vicinity of $17M/per. Remember, the team (and all the players) have been very supportive of one another. No one is (yet) demanding crazy money. Everyone who needed to get paid has gotten paid at a reasonable but not outlandish price. The Warriors are committed to keeping this core together.
Harrison is part of that core. He is a young, shining talent with a whole bunch more basketball left in him. I think eventually he re-signs in Golden State, the team moves forward, and in three months we won't believe how much time we spent talking about the whole situation.