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Steve Kerr says Gregg Popovich trusts Harrison Barnes

Team USA, Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich, Harrison Barnes

It is safe to say that Harrison Barnes has been the subject of numerous criticisms throughout his career.

Although the former North Carolina standout flashed his potential as an athletic wing scorer and defender with the Golden State Warriors, many executives believed that the Dallas Mavericks were overpaying for Barnes when they reached a four-year, $94 million offer sheet with Barnes in July of 2016.

When the Sacramento Kings decided to re-sign Barnes four four years and $85 million after trading for him in February, the prevailing notion was that the Kings were rewarding a player who had failed to show significant strides over the course of his career.

Yet for all of the scrutiny, Team USA assistant coach Steve Kerr told Joe Vardon of The Athletic that Gregg Popovich has total confidence that Barnes can help Team USA win at the 2019 FIBA World Cup:

“Pop trusts him,” said USA assistant Steve Kerr, who was Barnes’ head coach with Golden State for two years. “Pop talks about it all the time with our staff. He knows he can count on him to make the right play and to execute under pressure.”

While Kemba Walker and Donovan Mitchell are probably the most talented players on the Team USA roster, Barnes has experience winning at the international level, having won the gold medal with Team USA at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

In that sense, Barnes has as much of a “veteran” presence as guys like Walker and Brook Lopez, both of whom are actually older than Barnes. Popovich has always been good at maximizing talent, however, and he likely recognizes just how important Barnes will be to Team USA’s success.