Through the first half of the season, the Lakers’ unbalanced roster has revealed a glaringly obvious need for the team on the wing. With a dearth of guards and only a handful of (old) forwards, the Lakers would do well to swap some of their backcourt depth for front-court players.
That has likely fueled their interest in a player like Jerami Grant of the Detroit Pistons, which has been previously reported from multiple sources. A new name of a similar position and archetype has recently been linked as well with the Lakers as Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report reported the Lakers had reached out to the Kings about Harrison Barnes.
The Lakers have explored several trades ahead of the February 10 trade deadline. Sources indicate they have looked at players like Ben Simmons, Jerami Grant, Myles Turner and Harrison Barnes, among others.
Barnes is in his fourth season in Sacramento and is averaging 16.2 points per game while shooting 41.9% from the 3-point line. A former Warrior and Maverick, Barnes has long been one of the league’s prototypical 3-and-D forwards.
A closer look at his 3-point shooting shows he ranks in the 96th percentile in catch-and-shoot situations this season and is in the 90th percentile in spot-up opportunities, both per Synergy. Barnes’ sweet spot has long been in the corner and he ranks in the 98th percentile among forwards from the corner this season as he’s hit 54% of his 70 attempts.
The difficulty for the Lakers would be putting together a package that would be suitable for Barnes. Given his skill set and that he is only under contract for one more season after this year, he will likely be in high demand. The Lakers can really only offer Talen Horton-Tucker, one first round pick in the future and the prospect of Kendrick Nunn improving next season as their package.
There’s also the fact that the Kings and Lakers are likely going to be competing for playoff spots and it’s unlikely Sacramento would be thrilled with the idea of improving a contender not only in their conference but within their division.
With teams chasing Grant, though, it could make sense for the Lakers to move now on Barnes if they feel he is a difference-maker as the teams who do not land Grant will almost certainly shift their focus to Barnes. In that regard, it could be difficult for the Lakers to agree to a deal now with the Kings also aware that better packages won’t come until down the road.
But on paper, Barnes fits a specific need for the Lakers as a floor-spacing forward able to play alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis and provide the team a sorely needed starting-caliber wing. But while there’s a reason he’s a valuable wing player, there’s also a reason he’s been traded multiple times as well during his career.
The Lakers aren’t in a position to be particularly picky in what type of 3-and-D forward they can go after and Barnes would help in that regard, so long as that’s all the team is asking him to do and with limited expectations otherwise. If that’s the case, though, it could be a good deal for the Lakers.