4. Harrison Barnes, SF, Sacramento Kings – 4 years, $85 million.
Acquired via trade the year before, the Kings front office made it a priority to resign Harrison Barnes to a long term deal. The four years, $85 million dollars may seem like a lot up front, but the front office did a great job structuring this contract.
While he did make a rather large $24 million this year, the salary for his final year will be only $18 million. This gives the Kings much-needed flexibility considering the likes of De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley will be looking to resign in the coming years.
I have no issues with the Kings paying this sort of money, especially when you compare him to the usual caliber of free agents. As a small-market team, the Kings must keep it realistic.
There is no chance of signing any sort of All-Star talent while their playoff chances are this low. Perhaps they would have more pulling power if they had a proven culture of winning, but at this stage, Barnes will fill the void nicely.
For the last few years, the Kings have tried to fill the small forward void with part-timers like Justin Jackson, Iman Shumpert, and Troy Williams — all who returned rather poor results.
Surprisingly enough Shumpert was the most promising out of the lot, but Barnes has shown exactly what we have missed out on.
Barnes has a very polished game and is versatile with his size at 6-foot-8, 235 pounds. This allowed him to play both the three and the four without prejudicing the team. His shooting splits are above average at 46/38/80, while scoring over 14 points per game.
Defensively he is a step up from his predecessors showing a genuine ability to lock down opposing wings. Barnes stops his opponent more than 50 percent of the time, which for over 10 attempts per game is very efficient.
Jimmy Butler, who is widely considered one of the better defensive wings in the league, averaged only slightly better.
He has also assumed a leadership role amongst this young team, and at 28-years-old has become the veteran presence they so desperately needed. He has also shown the most committed to making the playoffs, refusing to shave his beard.