The 21-year-old has been the focal point of nearly all the trade talk surrounding the franchise. With loads of athleticism and a star-caliber smoothness to his game, he's one of the few highly coveted trade chips the win-now Warriors (31-22) hold.
He's not, however, an asset the team is likely to move. Barnes has been told by Warriors executives that "barring a blockbuster offer, he will not be traded before Thursday's deadline," according to what sources told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports.
Finding that offer will be hard enough.
During All-Star weekend, New York Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony said, "I know for a fact I'm not being traded" (via Scott Cacciola of The New York Times). Should the Minnesota Timberwolves (Kevin Love), Boston Celtics (Rajon Rondo) or Los Angeles Lakers (Pau Gasol) decide to trade their stars, they'll all be looking to net draft picks in return—the Warriors cannot trade a first-round selection before 2019.
Unearthing a motivated seller who's not searching for draft choices is a seemingly impossible task, at least in regard to the caliber of player needed to be involved to make this a "blockbuster" deal.
Assuming the Warriors actually find one, though, that might still not be enough. As Marcus Thompson II of the Bay Area News Group noted, any potential deal might include more layers than Golden State is willing to unravel:
Barnes won't be traded for bench help. But most players the Warriors would want in return have larger salaries, which means Golden State would have to part with Barnes plus others to make it work.
Myers cleared out several big salaries to get Andre Iguodala. So the only player the Warriors could reasonably package with Barnes would be a starter. That practically amounts to rebuilding, which the Warriors have no plans of doing by Thursday's deadline.
The Warriors aren't where they'd like to be.
Despite spending heavily on former All-Star Andre Iguodala, inking several proven vets to free-agent contracts (Jermaine O'Neal, Marreese Speights) and making a midseason deal for scoring guard Jordan Crawford, the Dubs carried nearly an identical winning percentage (.585) into the All-Star break as last season's team (.577).
The offense has struggled to consistently move the scoreboard, and Barnes has appeared in over his head as the leader of Golden State's broken bench. He's shooting just 41.6 percent from the field and posting only a 10.5 player efficiency rating—league average is 15.0—via Basketball-Reference.com.
He seems worlds removed from his days as a game-changing prospect and rarely shows more than fleeting flashes of that once-staggering potential. There's a significant divide between how good he was supposed to be and how good he's actually been since joining the league.
"It's too soon to definitively label Barnes as a draft bust, but he's certainly tracking in that general direction," Bleacher Report's Adam Fromal wrote.
There are motivations for Golden State to make a move, but only if a franchise-fixer was available. It doesn't appear to be, nor does it seem to be a sure thing the Warriors would make that call if one was offered.
Other teams have seen the struggles out in Oakland, both by the team as a whole and Barnes himself. They're circling like vultures, hoping to swoop in and buy low on a 21-year-old with an unset ceiling.
The Warriors are thinking the complete opposite. They're hoping Barnes' name alone can move the needle in superstar trade talks.
Unless scouts are seeing something the box score is missing, it's hard to see any substantial deal shaping up. Barnes shouldn't need to pack his bags, but the fact his name has been this involved in trade chatter should be a stern reminder of just how rocky his NBA career has started.
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