What does Harrison Barnes’ opt-out mean for the Sacramento Kings?

Sacramento Kings Harrison Barnes (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Sacramento Kings Harrison Barnes (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /

As first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Sacramento Kings’ forward Harrison Barnes has opted out of his $25.1 million player option and will become an unrestricted free agent.

The first big domino of the offseason has fallen for the Sacramento Kings, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Harrison Barnes, who was acquired via trade last season, has declined his player option and will become an unrestricted free agent.

Barnes filled a gaping hole at small forward as well as providing a veteran presence on a young and promising Sacramento team. Barnes averaged 14.3 points on 45/40/80 shooting splits over 28 games to finish the season.

Barnes’ decision opens a handful of options for the Kings, for better or for worse.

The Sacramento Kings are still in the driver’s seat

While he is now free to test the free agent waters, there may not be a team that is willing to pay him more than Sacramento. Depending on the demand for a veteran small forward, Barnes should command somewhere between $16-$18 million per year on the open market. The Kings have been rumored to be willing to offer him a contract somewhere within the 4 years, $80 million range.

There may be a team out there that is willing to overpay for Barnes’ services, however, it is less than likely given the depth of the free agent crop. But if there is a team out there that is looking to outbid the Kings, it would leave the Sacramento Kings with another huge hole to fill. For this reason, re-signing Harrison Barnes should be priority #1 for the offseason.

While Sacramento’s cap space is obviously contingent on whether Barnes accepts their offer and the structure of the said deal, his opt-out and re-signing would allow the Kings to spend even more money this offseason.

Using the 4-year/$80 million estimation, the Kings would increase their 2019-2020 cap space to nearly $45 million, and even more, if the contract is backloaded. That is $5 million more that they could throw at Patrick Beverly, Brook Lopez, or any other free agent they covet. And when you’re at the bottom of the barrel as far as destinations for potential free agents, every little bit of cap space helps.

Final thoughts

In the event that Barnes signs elsewhere, the Sacramento Kings would have a whopping ~$65 million in cap space for the summer. For many teams, losing a player like Harrison Barnes and having $65 million to spend to attract top-tier free agents would be a good thing. For a small-market and underwhelming team like the Sacramento Kings, all the money in the world means nothing if the top talent is not even fielding your phone calls.

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All signs point to Barnes re-signing with the Sacramento Kings, however. He has been in Sacramento for much of the offseason and participating in the Kings offseason workouts, and even took a well-publicized trip to India on the Kings behalf to promote the 2019 India Games.

The opt-out seems to make sense for all parties involved