Sacramento Kings

Kings forward declines $25.1 million, will become an unrestricted free agent

Kings forward Harrison Barnes declined his $25.1 million player option for the 2019-20 season and will become an unrestricted free agent, his agent told The Sacramento Bee on Tuesday, but a return to Sacramento is still possible.

Excel Sports Management president Jeff Schwartz said Barnes will opt out of the final year of a four-year, $94.4 million deal he signed with the Dallas Mavericks in 2016. The Kings acquired Barnes, 27, on the eve of the February trade deadline in a deal that sent Justin Jackson and Zach Randolph to Dallas.

Both sides are open to exploring a new deal that would keep Barnes in Sacramento, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who first reported the story. Barnes is unlikely to command as much money as a free agent this summer, but a four-year deal in the range of $18 million to $20 million per year might be more beneficial to both parties.

Barnes averaged 14.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists while shooting 40.8 percent from 3-point range in 28 games for the Kings this season. He gave them the size and length they lacked at the small forward position and seemed to fit nicely with core players such as De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley III.

Kings general manager Vlade Divac knew Barnes could opt out this summer, but he made the move to acquire him anyway, saying “we have interest to have him here for long time.”

“Harrison Barnes is a player who can score, who plays a position of need, somebody we’re looking to have a long future (with),” Divac said in February. “… I see him as a player who is going to help us go to the next level.”

Barnes has previously expressed a willingness to stay in Sacramento, telling The Bee: “I’m confident that will work itself out.”

“Everything here has been great from the coach to the players to the front office to the fans,” Barnes said in March. “It’s been a super warm reception. I’ve enjoyed it.”

Teams will be free to negotiate with free agents beginning at 6:01 p.m. on June 30. Deals can’t be completed until the free agency moratorium ends July 6.

More than 200 players are expected to be free agents and 25 teams are projected to have over $20 million to spend, setting the stage for one of the wildest free agency bonanzas in NBA history.

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Jason Anderson is an award-winning sportswriter for The Sacramento Bee. He started his journalism career at The Bee more than 20 years ago and returned to cover the Sacramento Kings in September 2018.