NBA Rumors: Warriors Willing To Match Any Offer For Harrison Barnes?
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Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors are on the brink of winning a second consecutive championship, which would bring the 2015-2016 NBA season to a close. With that being the case, it’s difficult not to look ahead to July, when free agency opens. One of the more sought after players will be Golden State Warriors forward Harrison Barnes, a restricted free agent.

The Los Angeles Lakers, who need a small forward to replace the retired Kobe Bryant, are expected to be one of the teams to pursue Barnes, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News.

Unfortunately for Los Angeles, it appears as though Barnes’ performance in the NBA Finals is making it more likely that Golden State retains his services by matching any offer for him. Owner Joe Lacob did not hesitate in saying that money would not be an issue in retaining Barnes, and Deveney cites an anonymous NBA General Manager who believes Barnes will not be as available as some thought he would be:

“I think that all along that they were not going to let him go unless they fell down and didn’t win it all. It might just be that they’re trying to push down offers, but that’s the message.”

Though ownership sounds intent on keeping Barnes, Deveney does note that if Barnes went to the Warriors and asked them to allow to him sign elsewhere, they could honor that request:

The one possible scenario in which Barnes leaves, the source said, would be if he approached the Warriors front office with a request to be elsewhere. If Barnes determines he would like to have a chance to be a more featured part of an offense, the Warriors would likely honor that — especially if a sign-and-trade deal could be worked out.

The Lakers could surely offer a larger role to Barnes than what he currently has with the Warriors. He would be one of the featured offensive options and fit right in with the Lakers young core. Additionally he already has a rapport with new Lakers coach Luke Walton.

Of course the lingering question in all of the Harrison Barnes talk is whether the Warriors can convince Kevin Durant to come to Oakland. If the Warriors sign Durant, there would be no way to keep Barnes, but would the Warriors be willing to break up a core that has won back-to-back championships?

If the Warriors do decide to keep their core together, which seems likely, that could mean one less player for the Lakers to pursue on the free agent market.

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