Harrison Barnes, NBA free agent, would welcome 'special' Kings return

Free agent Barnes would welcome 'special' return to Kings originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Perhaps the biggest question surrounding the Kings’ upcoming offseason is the future of 30-year-old forward Harrison Barnes.

Barnes, a veteran leader on the young Sacramento roster, enters the open market for the first time since 2016 when he was a restricted free agent and landed a four-year max contract with the Dallas Mavericks.

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He would be thrilled to return to Sacramento.

“It would be special,” Barnes said of re-signing with the Kings during his end-of-season press conference Monday. “I have equity in Sacramento, just being through a lot of the long seasons. To finally be on the other side of that and to have a collective experience and feel like we were knocking at the door.

" … Obviously, we’ve all been around. We know it’s a business; a lot of things happen. But to continue on with this group, I think that would be a special thing."

Four of the Kings’ five starters -- De'Aaron Fox, Kevin Huerter, Keegan Murray and Domantas Sabonis -- are locked into next season. So is sixth man Malik Monk, and Sacramento’s best defender Davion Mitchell.


That core, plus Coach of the Year Mike Brown and Executive of the Year Monte McNair, provides a sense of continuity not experienced in Sacramento for the better part of two decades.

Do the Kings plan to keep their veteran leader moving forward?

“I think for us, we’re three, four days away from a pretty painful end [to our season],” McNair said to reporters Wednesday. “So, we’re going to sit down and have all those conversations.

“Obviously, Harrison is a fantastic part of our team. A vet leader, and one of two guys with championship experience for us, which was a big part of getting our young guys ready to go. We’ll have all those conversations in the coming weeks.”


Barnes made his way to Sacramento at the 2019 trade deadline and spent the last 4 1/2 seasons with the Kings. He was a main piece on past teams that won no more than 31 games before bursting onto the scene in 2022-23 and claiming the No. 3 playoff seed in the Western Conference.

Barnes played in all 82 regular-season games this season, averaging 15.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. He had his worst 3-point shooting year in a Kings uniform (37.4 percent) but still played a big role in Sacramento setting an NBA record with a 118.6 offensive rating.

He might have left a bad taste in the mouths of Kings fans by struggling in the best-of-seven playoff series against the Golden State Warriors. The veteran missed a potential game-winner at the buzzer of Game 4 at Chase Center and shot 24 percent from 3-point range over seven games.

RELATED: Brown believes Fox has potential to be elite NBA superstar

But in the Kings' locker room, a group with just five players over 26 years old, his value is sky high.


“HB has been big,” Fox said Monday. “From the moment he got here, you just saw the professionalism that he had. We’ve had our lockers next to each other since he’s been here, too.

“He was huge for me in just showing me how I needed to work to get to the next level. … Just seeing the way he worked -- getting here early, staying late, whatever it may be -- has made my work ethic that much better, which ultimately I feel like that’s what has gotten me to this point.”

McNair, with the Executive of the Year trophy now in his possession, has a big decision to make with his staff this summer. If Barnes wants to stay, he earned the chance by helping guide this team out of irrelevance.