Throughout the regular season, there were plenty of opinions regarding Barnes' level of play versus the amount of money he'd likely be looking for after this season, considering the deal he turned down with the Warriors last year. So a fair amount of scrutiny was to be expected. Add to that his numbers during the season and in the playoffs, there was an increasing stream of criticism to be found on social media, and eventually in the press. I don't think much of it was unwarranted, though there certainly were a few unreasonable takes out there.
In the last few days, however, it seems like the negative opinions surrounding Barnes have spiked in volume and heat. And I can't help but wonder if it would be different if they'd won. It seems like it would. Most likely, a lot of people would still recognize that he's not the best fit, but would wish him well if he did leave. It's also likely that there would be a fair number of people who felt like they should work something out with him to keep him here.
But as the situation stands, the level of scathingly hot takes about him being shared on social media is somewhat surprising. He seems to be singled out as The Problem. As though there wasn't a possibility of him leaving, either way. As though he, personally, cost the team the Finals. There's plenty of shared blame to go around in that regard and he seems to be getting an unfair majority of it, just because he wants to get paid.
Obviously, a player should have the numbers to back that up, and I understand the complaint that some of his teammates, who outperformed him by far, took a team-friendly discount. But I really can't fault a person in a risky career with a short window for success for wanting to get as much out of it as they can, while they can. An argument could even be made that he needed it more because while playing on a team with the MVP and two All Stars, he wouldn't find the same amount of endorsement opportunities. Any number of factors could play into that decision.
It seems that he's done his best for this team, even if his best didn't turn out to be exactly what everyone was expecting of him. That bar always seemed to be a little high, made even higher considering he was playing for a contract this season. But accounts throughout the year were that he put in the work, that he practiced constantly. It just didn't pay off, for one reason or another. I don't think that his season performance merits a max contract with this team as it is currently structured, but I think other teams may feel differently. So if he chooses to go, I'll tip my cap to him and wish him nothing but success. I just wonder how many other Warriors fans will still feel the same way, considering.