Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes has turned down his 2019-20 player option worth $25.1 million, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
The 27-year-old averaged 16.4 points per game for the upstart Kings squad that came just shy of the Western Conference playoff picture after posting the franchise’s best season in 13 years.
Given that Barnes is just now entering his prime, the decision to turn down a $25 million player option is an interesting one. In certain other scenarios, the idea of cashing out that season in exchange for a longer-term contract either with Sacramento or elsewhere would make sense.
In Barnes’ case, he may be taking a gamble that he could earn more than $25 million on the open market. While there are no shortage of teams with major money in anticipation of a busy free agency period, those windfalls have typically been reserved for higher profile players.
Alas, Barnes and agent Jeff Schwartz may be more optimistic about landing a long-term deal that will carry Barnes through his prime this summer than they would be next summer. Once the big names are off the board in July and several teams still have an abundance of cap room, that could very well be the case.
In any event, Barnes’ decision clears considerable space off of Sacramento’s books and the club will now head into 2019-20 with as little as $42 million on their payroll plus a potential qualifying offer for Willie Cauley-Stein and some non-guaranteed deals.