Among the list of potential members of the NBA cavalry that could ride in to save what has been a decidedly wayward Lakers season is a time-tested veteran who has mostly worn out his time in another spot. That should be no surprise, because the Lakers have collected an entire roster that consists of just that kind of player.
Perhaps of more surprise is that the player is one whose name has not already been bandied about for weeks on the rumor mill: Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes, who was pegged by team insider Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report as a potential target the Lakers have at least looked into bringing in.
“The Lakers have explored several trades ahead of the February 10 trade deadline. Sources indicate they have looked at players like Ben Simmons, Jerami Grant, Myles Turner and Harrison Barnes, among others,” Pincus wrote.
Everyone on the list should be familiar. The team is known to have inquired about Simmons, though there is no indication that the Sixers are willing to take back the only piece that could make sense in such a swap, Russell Westbrook.
Grant and Turner, besides being injured, are unlikely targets simply because the Lakers lack the assets to get them. But is Barnes possible?
Kings Are Looking to Blow Up Roster
No doubt, the Kings are heading into the coming trade deadline with an eye on completely remaking the roster, having already fired coach Luke Walton and considered trades for just about everyone on the roster, including star point guard De’Aaron Fox. The Lakers know well the Kings’ eagerness to make a deal, having nearly pulled off a trade for shooting guard Buddy Hied in the offseason.
Barnes is at least a realistic option for the Lakers, a 29-year-od wing who has won a championship, helping the Warriors to their 2015 NBA title, over LeBron James’ Cavaliers. Barnes was part of the 2016 Warriors team that was upset by James and the Cavs, but has not returned to the playoffs since, having played for Dallas and Sacramento.
Barnes is a versatile forward who is shooting a career-high 41.9% from the 3-point line this season (which should get the Lakers’ attention) and averaging a respectable 16.2 points per game. He is a decent defender and a solid fourth option on a Lakers team that needs all the firepower it can get.
Lack of Assets Continues to Be a Problem
But we will find ourselves, eventually, at the same problem we always have when looking at possible Lakers trade targets—they just can’t matchup with other offers opposing teams could make.
Chicago, for example, is rumored to have an interest in Barnes, though the Bulls do have interest elsewhere, too. If the Bulls wanted to put forth a package that included guard Coby White and/or a first-round pick, they could easily blow away any offer the Lakers would make.
As Pincus writes, “Los Angeles doesn’t have notable bait, primarily Horton-Tucker (who hasn’t had a great season), Reaves (a piece the Lakers would rather keep), the contract of Kendrick Nunn (who hasn’t played this season because of a knee injury), a 2027 or a 2028 first-round pick, a few second-rounders and a few minimum contracts like those of Kent Bazemore, Wayne Ellington, Howard and Jordan.”
That is just not going to get back a contributor like Barnes. The Lakers asked about him, as they should, but likely will not have the pieces to get to a “yes.”