Did the Kevin Durant Rumors Affect Harrison Barnes?
When Dallas signed Harrison Barnes to a max contract after a disastrous postseason, they received much criticism, but did the Kevin Durant talks affect Barnes’ play?
It was this past February that the crew over at The Vertical published a piece that rocked the NBA universe when they broke news that the same Golden State team that was on pace to break the all-time regular season win record was preparing a summer pitch to Kevin Durant.
What? How could this good of a team add arguably the best player in the league? Could Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry actually be on the same NBA team?
News circulated around the league as slowly the plan to bring Kevin Durant came out, and it was quite easy. Renounce all of their free agents (including Harrison Barnes) and trade Andrew Bogut or Andre Iguodala.
The NBA season continued and Golden State completed the unthinkable in breaking the Chicago Bulls record 72 wins in a season while reaching the Conference Finals once again.
Meanwhile, in OKC, Kevin Durant & Co led a Oklahoma City team through the second round against the Spurs and into the Conference Finals where they took a 3-1 lead against the Warriors. Kevin Durant looked to be going to his second Finals and most likely staying in OKC over the summer.
Then the Warriors happened.
Golden State won three straight games to put out Oklahoma City and suddenly, the thought of Durant leaving was at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
Including Harrison Barnes.
When Golden State put out the Thunder and the speculation started about Durant leaving, you think it was on Barnes’ mind that he was the expendable piece? That he was unappreciated?
After that series, Barnes notably went 5-32 in the last three games of the Finals.
This past week, on The Bill Simmons Podcast, Bill Simmons and Joe House brought up the idea that maybe the Kevin Durant talks were in the back of Harrison Barnes’ mind throughout his struggling postseason run.
“Reports were they were courting Durant for two years, Draymond was texting him all the time. So they really were trying to get him and plant the seed for him to come this summer. Ok, so who is that at the expense of? One guy definitely is Harrison Barnes. Well who sucked in the playoffs? Harrison Barnes.”
“Do you think he knew they were going after Durant this whole time, I wonder if that affected him. I wonder if their pursuit for Durant, which didn’t make sense to me in February, I wonder if that affected their chances to win a title last year” Simmons proclaimed.
After Joe House refutes the notion and says that the Warriors wouldn’t have wanted Barnes if he was affected by the talks, Simmons says…
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“It has to be a little bit of a distraction.”
They then talked about the relationship that Barnes had with Draymond Green and the other core group. That Harrison had a weird relationship with Green.
“That’s a meaningful observation. It did seem as things went on, that Harrison seemed like an outsider. He was not in that ‘cool clique’, he was on the outside looking in” House added.
Listen to full podcast here.
Is this an excuse for Barnes’ Finals performance? Not at all. But it would be stupid to think that it wasn’t at least on his mind after they put out OKC in the Conference Finals.
I have been all in on Harrison Barnes going back to last year. I followed him coming out of Ames, Iowa all the way to him signing his max contract in Dallas. He is class personified and gives Dallas a young wing to continue to build around.