Unpacking Celtics’ Rumored Interest In Kings’ Harrison Barnes

The Sacramento King has been a consistent name linked to Boston this year


March 10, 2021

The list of NBA players linked to the Boston Celtics in the last week is getting extensive.

To recap, we’ve heard about Larry Nance Jr., Jerami Grant, Nikola Vucevic and Nemanja Bjelica, and even that Boston was among teams interested in Blake Griffin before the Detroit Pistons officially bought him out.

We know how things played out for Griffin, who is headed to the Brooklyn Nets. As for the others, it’s hard to imagine any of those guys being available for what Boston (should) be willing to give up.

But if you’ve been listening to any of the latest Celtics broadcasts on NBC Sports Boston, you may have caught Brian Scalabrine insisting that any of the names being thrown around are just “smoke and mirrors” for Boston’s real target: Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes.

In a column posted in Sports Illustrated on Tuesday, Chris Mannix doubled down on that, reporting that the “Celtics are high on Harrison Barnes” who “could be moved by Sacramento.”

Celtics president Danny Ainge has publicly expressed that his team needs a scoring threat with quite a bit of size. Based on some of the names that have been thrown out here, they’re willing to sacrifice in some departments.

But Barnes is a solid wing, which is where Boston’s depth suffers considerably.

He’s averaged 16.7 points on 49.2 percent shooting and 39.2 percent from deep through the first half of the season with the Kings.

Barnes is pretty big at 6-foot-8. His defense isn’t groundbreaking, but he’s versatile and seems like a genuinely good guy. With the package the Celtics could offer — draft picks, some young talent to choose from — it’s hard to tell what would make the Kings bite.

And in the second year of a four-year, $85 million contract, Boston would be on the hook to pay him around $20 million this year and the next two.

But if the Celtics are going to make their first mid-season move in six years, you kind of expect it to make a bigger splash. Is Barnes going to get them by Brooklyn? And then, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers?

If not, then what’s the point. And if you have to supplement that with another move, you wonder if it’s worth just holding off until the offseason.

We’ll find out before the deadline March 25.

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