People are upset about the Mavericks handing a max offer sheet to Harrison Barnes, and they should be. Even in a vacuum, that much money to a guy who failed to showcase the talent he supposedly has once again would look pretty bad. When you’re offering it to a guy you have to wait a week to see if you’ll get, and you probably won’t, after you refused to offer pretty much the exact same contract to Chandler Parsons -- who would have taken it, is a better player, and a better fit for the Mavs -- you have explaining to do.
But I think if most people really think about it, they’d realize they’re more upset that it came to this than they are about anything that’s likely to happen with Harrison Barnes. First of all, the Dubs are likely to lose out on Kevin Durant and re-sign Barnes – that’s part of the reason the Mavs’ general strategy of hoarding money was even a worse idea this year than previously. Everyone’s got enough to make some bad signings and keep rolling. But there are better reasons to be frustrated, too.
To be upset about Harrison Barnes getting the max qua Harrison Barnes getting the max, you have to believe the Mavs were going to do something useful with that money. They might have through absorbing other teams’ jettisoned contracts, but it’s not clear that many teams are going to feel a crunch this year and there’s certainly nobody left on the unrestricted free agent market that matters. So, as far as this year is concerned, spend that money Mark. It’ll tie it up until July 7th so they can’t use it on anyone else – but who, at this point, were they going to use it on anyway? Wesley Johnson?
As for next year and the years to come, it’s true that Barnes would negatively impact the Mavs’ ability to offer big contracts to a better FA crop. It’s obviously understandable that people would be upset about this, but you’d have to be a far more optimistic man than me to suppose that next year, the sixth in the series, will be the one in which they finally put FA money to adequate use. I saw a lot of people, throughout the year, saying things like “LET Parsons go and go get Batum or whoever.” Hopefully this season will serve as an object lesson in the fact that you don’t just “go get” whoever. Other teams have other ideas and the players are listening.
And of course, if it should come to that, Harrison Barnes won’t stop you tanking. He’s not that good. Imagine a team without Dirk and with only Harrison Barnes and Wes Matthews as impact players. Where does that team finish in the West?
Since all this is the case, I say focus on the positives. I doubt they get him, but if they do, he remains a high-quality 3-and-D guy. I doubt he does much in terms of creating his own shot and he’s certainly not the initiator that Parsons is, but between him and Wes that’s a lot of long-range shooting and defensive strength. If they add Justin Anderson – I’m least happy about this potential pick up because of what it might do to Simba’s minutes – it could result in some really long, really good shooting, really good defensive and rebound rotations.
But it probably won’t happen. Next year, the Warriors can let Bogut, Iggy, and Shaun Livingston go if they need the cap space, they’ll re-up Steph Curry, and they have Klay Thompson signed through 2019 and Draymond Green through 2020. They don’t need money and there’s no one else on the market, after Durant, who would be worth giving up Barnes for. If it does, it’s disappointing because the Mavs already aren’t going to do better, not because of what this move means for their future.