Underpaid player #2: Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes just inked a new three-year $54 million extension and will earn $17 million in the 2023-24 season. At first glance, that might not seem like he is underpaid. After all, Barnes is already 31 and struggled at certain points in the playoffs, but that overlooks everything he can still offer the Kings.
Barnes is a valuable veteran presence with championship experience and is very reliable even though he is getting older. Last season, Barnes didn’t miss a single game and played an average of 32.5 minutes per contest.
In that time, he averaged 15 points on 47.3 percent shooting from the field and 37.4 percent from three, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.6 assists. Those are not the numbers of a player who will soon age out of playing meaningful basketball.
Considering all this, the extension was a really good deal for the Kings. The deal is team-friendly, they could not get a younger high-impact forward, and it allows the team to have continuity. For Barnes, it offers an opportunity to compete on an exciting young team and to impart his wisdom to the next generation.
If we compare the deal to what other starting forwards are making, it seems like a real steal for the Kings, though. Just this summer, Jerami Grant, Cameron Johnson, and Kyle Kuzma inked new contracts. All three are set to make over $25 million in 2023-24 which is a giant step up from Barnes’ salary.
While Grant and Kuzma both put up better numbers than Barnes did last season, they were empty stats. Out of this group, Barnes is the only one to start for one of the top teams in the league, which makes this pay gap seem even bigger.