Harrison Barnes has decided against an extension with the Warriors, GM Bob Myers told reporters today, including Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link). The sides were facing a November 2nd deadline to reach a deal that would keep Barnes out of restricted free agency next summer. Barnes said he prefers to focus on this season and defending Golden State’s championship and seems “very comfortable” with the idea of ending negotiations until July, observes Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group (Twitter link).
Barnes said a month ago that extension talks were going well shortly after Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported that he had turned down a four-year, $64MM offer. That offer came before he changed agents, switching from Jeff Wechsler of 24/7 Sports Management to Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports Management. Myers made it clear over the summer that he wanted to sign the former No. 7 overall pick to an extension, though co-owner Joe Lacob more recently told Kawakami that while he’d like to see the team do an extension with Barnes, he’d be OK with him ending up in restricted free agency.
Next season’s projected maximum salary for a player with Barnes’ level of experience is $20.4MM, though that number stands to escalate if the cap ends up higher than the projected $89MM, as some around the league reportedly believe it will. Golden State already has $74.8MM in guaranteed salary for 2016/17, including partial guarantees for Jason Thompson and Shaun Livingston. The cap hold for Barnes, worth more than $9.683MM, would make it difficult, if not impossible, for the Warriors to pursue max level free agents while waiting to re-sign Barnes next summer, as the Spurs did with Kawhi Leonard‘s restricted free agency this year. A sign-and-trade would represent the most logical path to a marquee free agent addition for Golden State, and Kawakami speculated that the Warriors would be better positioned for sign-and-trades if they inked Barnes to an extension.
Barnes had a breakthrough season last year under coach Steve Kerr, who moved him back into the starting lineup after he’d spent a year coming off the bench behind Andre Iguodala. He still averaged the same number of minutes per game, but he posted better scoring and rebounding averages, and he improved his three-point shooting from 34.7% to an elite 40.5%.
The former University of North Carolina player is still just 23, with room for improvement, as I noted when I profiled Barnes’ extension candidacy, suggesting that $16-18MM a year would satisfy both sides. That was before news surfaced that Barnes had turned down Golden State’s offer of $16MM annual salaries.