On Tuesday, Barnes's agent told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski he will decline the player option for the 2019-20 season on his contract that was worth $25.1 million. Wojnarowski noted, "Barnes, 27, and Kings are open to exploring a new deal together this summer."
The Kings acquired him from the Dallas Mavericks via trade in February in an effort to snap their playoff drought that dates back to the 2005-06 campaign. While they fell short as the Western Conference's No. 9 seed, they also finished with 39 wins—the most since that playoff year.
Barnes didn't sound like someone who wanted to give up that postseason pursuit after just a couple months with the Kings when he spoke with Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee in March about a young core that includes Buddy Hield, De'Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III:
"The potential is crazy. To see these guys in their first, second year—just kind of playing with so much heart, so much passion, definitely eager to learn—I'm excited to be with this group (and) compete alongside these guys.
"We're looking at next year. This year, obviously, things came together late with the roster and that type of stuff, but we're competing. We're battling. Every single time we step on the floor, that's another time that, hopefully, we're progressing in the right direction and building something."
While he could still return on a new contract, the lure of free agency appeared to change his mind. That means there is another young and talented wing scorer set to hit the open market.
Barnes played 28 games for the Kings following the trade and averaged 14.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game while shooting 40.8 percent from three-point range and 45.5 percent from the field. While his scoring dropped from the 17.7 points he scored a night on the Mavericks during 49 games in 2018-19, he was also more efficient (40.4 percent from the field and 38.9 percent from deep in Dallas).
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The North Carolina product's best scoring seasons came when he tallied 19.2 points a game in 2016-17 and 18.9 points a night in 2017-18 as one of the primary options in Dallas, but he has been in the supporting role he found himself in with the Kings in the past as well.
He entered the league in 2012 when the Golden State Warriors selected him with the No. 7 overall pick and never averaged more than 11.7 points a night playing on a loaded roster. Still, he picked up valuable playoff experience and reached two NBA Finals, winning one.
Barnes will bring that playoff-tested resume to whichever team signs him as someone who is just 27 years old and has proved he can be a role player who capitalizes on space created by his teammates or a go-to option.
If he can balance that approach, he can return to the postseason in 2019-20.