Sacramento Kings: Harrison Barnes trade is high-risk, high-reward move

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images /

The Sacramento Kings acquired Harrison Barnes the day before the 2019 NBA trade deadline, a move that could get them into the playoffs or set them back a couple of years.

There it is. The bold move the Sacramento Kings were expected to make came on Wednesday night, when they struck a deal with the Dallas Mavericks to bring Harrison Barnes to the California capital just ahead of the 2019 NBA trade deadline.

For Barnes, the Kings sent both Justin Jackson and Zach Randolph to Dallas, completing a deal that could have significant implications for this franchise’s short-term future.

On one hand, the addition of Barnes could be just what the Kings need to book their trip to the 2019 NBA Playoffs. They’ve been on the fringe all year long, staying alive in the race for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. However, up to this point, it seemed like they were going to have a difficult time entering the postseason.

Barnes gives Sacramento yet another dangerous offensive weapon for a team that’s already eighth in the NBA in points per game. Joining the budding talents of De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic, he now figures to step in as the standout small forward Dave Joerger has been desperately waiting for.

Can Barnes be the difference-maker this franchise needs to get over the hump, though?

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On paper, the answer seems to be “yes.” Although he never developed into the star the Mavericks thought they were signing back in 2016, Barnes still figures to bring plenty of firepower to the Sacramento starting lineup. Over the last three seasons, he’s averaged 18.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game while shooting 44.5 percent from the field.

On the other hand, Barnes has the potential to be a letdown. While the odds of him being a complete bust in Sacramento aren’t high, we’ve already seen that he didn’t shine as bright when cast into a starring role. He thrived when he was the underdog on a loaded Golden State Warriors roster — that won’t be situation with the Kings.

That’s not all, though.

Barnes has a $25.1-million player option for the 2019-20 NBA season. There’s about a 100-percent chance that he exercises said option, putting the Kings on the hook for a huge amount of money next season. The Kings knew they weren’t going to be big players during 2019 NBA free agency, so they went out and used that cap space on Barnes.

It’s a risky move for a non-star on what can easily be considered an overpriced contract.

Yes, Sacramento is only tied to Barnes for one more year. And yet, if he doesn’t give them the push they need, that’s another season and a half before they can start dreaming of anything more than a quick playoff exit.

Next. Grading the Kings' trade for Alec Burks. dark

I wouldn’t call the Kings winners of the 2019 NBA trade deadline, but they achieved their goal of finding an impact small forward. We’ll see soon enough if Barnes brings enough to this roster to earn Sacramento its first playoff appearance since 2006.