Kevin Durant is the Warriors’ Plan A in free agency this offseason, and the team will get an opportunity to make its pitch to him on Friday in The Hamptons. However, if Durant ultimately heads back to the Thunder or signs with another rival suitor, the Warriors are expected to focus on bringing back restricted free agent Harrison Barnes.
Adrian Wojnarowski reported as much during The Vertical’s free agency show late on Thursday night (link via RealGM.com), suggesting that the Warriors will likely match any offer sheet Barnes signs with another club. Even if the young forward doesn’t ultimately end up in the team’s long-term plans, Golden State recognizes that his contract would be tradeable, and the club would be able to go over the cap to lock him up.
The 76ers are said to have serious interest in Barnes, and could emerge as the Warriors’ most significant competitor for the 24-year-old, who ranked 12th on our list of this year’s top 50 free agents.
There has been speculation that Barnes will receive a maximum-salary offer sheet, or something very close to it, which would be an awfully steep price to pay for a player who has never averaged more than 11.7 points per game in a season and has struggled in some critical postseason moments. Still, Philadelphia has a huge amount of cap room and could easily afford such a deal, so if the Sixers do pursue Barnes, I’d expect them to make a max offer to put the pressure on Golden State.