And if Barnes is smart—read: privy to the salary-cap situation—he’ll hold out until they’re prepared to make him richer than very rich.
With Barnes entering the fourth year of his career, the Warriors have until October 31 to reach terms on an extension that kicks in for 2016-17, otherwise the hybrid forward will enter restricted free agency and face what will be an onslaught of ridiculous offer sheets amid the NBA’s unprecedented salary-cap boon. Clearly aware of this, Golden State has an offer of its own on the table, according to Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski:
The Golden State Warriors delivered forward Harrison Barnes an initial four-year, $64 million contract extension proposal, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The $16 million annual offer wasn’t accepted, but appears to be a starting point in talks that could last until the Oct. 31 deadline for rookie extensions.
The Warriors are trying to prevent Barnes from reaching restricted free agency in July 2016, when a rising salary cap and scores of teams with financial flexibility will couple with Barnes’ burgeoning talent and potential to make him a significant target on the market.
As Woj notes, the Warriors’ offer, as of now, has not been accepted. And it will never be accepted, because, as of now, it’s not high enough.
Sure, it’s roughly $6 million less than the Warriors gave Klay Thompson, an All-Star, last summer. And yes, this effectively guarantees that Barnes, like Andrew Bout, Draymond Green and Thompson, will be making more than Stephen Curry, the reigning MVP, in 2016-17. But it’s still not enough. Not with the salary cap expected to reach $89 million or more in less than one year’s time.
That’s Barnes’ leverage, the negotiating power that, in the end, will ensure his average annual salary is greater than both Green’s ($17 million) and Thompson’s ($17.5 million). And that’s not to say Barnes is better than both of them, or even one of them. He’s not. Maybe he will be one day, perhaps sometime soon, just not right now.
This has more to do with what other teams will offer Barnes next summer, when the superstar free-agency well dries up—which it will. The lack of high-profile names to sign one-year deals this offseason (a la the LeBron James route) means that after Kevin Durant, Al Horford and Mike Conley make their decisions, there aren’t a whole of, or any, megastars to chase.
And that’s to the benefit of mid-tier players such as Barnes. Desperate after whiffing on Durant and Horford, certain teams won’t hesitate to max Barnes out, banking on both his future potential and the rising salary cap to validate his financial windfall.
Whatever the Warriors end up giving Barnes, assuming these negotiations end with him accepting an extension, will be a discount, even if it technically isn’t, if only because it will be less than what some team down the line is prepared to sling.