Barnes, 36, signed a two-year, $12 million contract with Sacramento in July. He averaged 7.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists while playing 25.3 minutes per game. Though Ben McLemore and Arron Afflalo started six of the Kings' last seven games at the two wing spots, Barnes averaged nearly identical playing time to Afflalo and seven-plus minutes a night more than McLemore.
In trading Cousins, Sacramento created a wing logjam, adding Tyreke Evans, Buddy Hield and Langston Galloway to its roster. Hield, the No. 6 overall pick in the June draft, was the crown jewel of the deal in the Kings' eyes.
Evans and Galloway were rotation players in New Orleans, but it's unclear what (if any) plans are in place for them in Sacramento. Evans will be a free agent this summer, and Galloway has a $5.4 million player option for next season, per Spotrac.
Nonetheless, each player was more attractive to the Kings than Barnes, an aging veteran with little place in a rebuilding franchise. Sacramento's signing of the UCLA product was something of a win-now move, as it tried to surround Cousins with players who could lift the team to the postseason.
But the Kings, just 1.5 games out of the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, decided to change their culture—even though it meant settling for a below-average haul for a superstar.
Assuming Barnes clears waivers, he'll be free to link up with a new team. The Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors are among the wing-needy playoff squads who might be interested in a little edge off the bench.
Barnes previously played for Los Angeles and Golden State.