Harrison Barnes speaks on playoff race and future with Kings as NBA trade deadline nears

Michael Wyke/AP

Kings forward Harrison Barnes just happened to be slipping into a money-green suit when he was asked about his future in Sacramento following Monday’s 140-120 victory over the Houston Rockets.

Barnes is in the final year of the four-year, $85 million contract he signed with the Kings in 2019. He has been the subject of trade rumors for the past two years as top playoff contenders came calling to explore potential deals, but now the Kings are top playoff contenders and Barnes has been a big part of their success.

In November, a league source told The Sacramento Bee the Kings were not involved in trade talks involving Barnes, saying the organization was focused on building chemistry within the current group. That may still be true, but Barnes knows anything can happen with Thursday’s NBA trade deadline fast approaching.

“At this point, I’ll probably be in trade deadline rumors until I retire, so it’s one of those things that’s just part of life,” Barnes said. “You don’t really pay too much attention to it. At the end of the day, I’m happy with what we’ve done this season, and I just want to continue to build on that.”

Barnes suffered through four losing seasons in Sacramento before experiencing this kind of success under first-year coach Mike Brown. The Kings (30-23) are third in the Western Conference as they prepare to conclude a seven-game road trip against the Rockets (13-40) on Wednesday at Toyota Center. They are only 2 ½ games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 2 seed, but they are just four games ahead of the Utah Jazz for 10th place and the final play-in bid.

“I think it’s just a matter of trying to find consistency every night,” Barnes said. “Obviously, a lot of things can happen. You look at a five-game winning streak, a five-game losing streak here or there, how much you can go up or down in the standings, so, for us, I think it’s just a matter of trying to find consistency each night.”

This is the veteran perspective Barnes provides along with his veteran play. He is averaging 15.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists while shooting 47.7% from the field and 38.2% from 3-point range.

Kings general manager Monte McNair can try to sign Barnes to a contract extension now or after the season; let him walk away as an unrestricted free agent this summer; or trade him now to acquire comparable talent or recoup assets.

Barnes wouldn’t say if the Kings have offered a contract extension or if he would be more willing to stay in Sacramento given the team’s current success. He referred those questions to his agent.

‘“That’s more of a Jeff Schwartz question,” Barnes said. “Him and Monte can figure all that stuff out, but I think, just being in this situation now, after having sweat equity in this, I think, obviously, me and (De’Aaron) Fox are the only two here from when I got here. Me, Fox and (Richaun Holmes), being through a couple different cycles, I think it’s just rewarding to be a part of this group, and hopefully we can continue to build on that. I’m here. Those things are out of my control. Whatever they put on the table, we’ll go from there.”

Schwartz told The Bee he had “nothing to report on my side other than Harrison enjoys playing for Sac.”

Barnes was asked again if he is open to a contract extension and if he wants to remain in Sacramento given the team’s turnaround this season.

“Those are big questions, but the biggest thing coming into this season, we talked about just staying present,” Barnes said. “Coach and I talked before the season, and, obviously, going into the last year of my deal, it was just like, ‘Look, let’s just take it day by day and see what happens. Just try to be the best we can be as a group.’

“That message doesn’t become more clear until you start going forward. You’re just like, ‘What are we really focusing on? What do we want to do?’ So that’s still the mentality whether it’s the contract or whether it’s where we’re at in the rankings or the postseason. Whatever it is, it’s just a matter of let’s just stay focused each and every day.”