The 24-year-old Barnes, who has been the team's starting small forward since being drafted by the team in 2012, is due to become a restricted free agent this summer. There has been much speculation on whether or not the 6-foot-8 forward will return to Golden State.
While it's uncertain where Barnes will play next season, he has stressed that he would “love” to return to Golden State, via Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com:
“It's out of my control. People say, ‘Do you want to be here in Golden State?' A lot of it is, look, I love Golden State. I'd love to be here. But there's also some other factors that factor into that, you know what I'm saying?”
There are several factors that will determine whether or not the University of North Carolina product will remain a Warrior into next season. First and foremost, it's obvious the team will make a run at free agent Kevin Durant. With the amount of money Durant would command as a small forward, there would be almost no reason for Golden State to re-sign Barnes. Furthermore, even if the Warriors wanted Barnes back, he wouldn't see much playing time as a backup to the 2013-14 MVP.
Secondly, as a 24-year-old oozing of offensive potential, some team will pay Barnes more money to play a big role in their offense. As long as Barnes is in Golden State, he will always be behind Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in the pecking order. While he may not win championships elsewhere, he will have the opportunity to display that he can be a go-to option by playing for another team.
While nothing is certain right now, it should be an interesting offseason as Barnes enters his first summer as a free agent.
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