Harrison Barnes is a perfect but difficult trade target for Milwaukee Bucks

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 16 (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 16 (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

Due to a lack of financial flexibility and a finite amount of desirable assets currently at his disposal, Jon Horst, general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks, must get creative this offseason.

Despite taking the Boston Celtics to seven games in the second round, the Bucks have clear flaws on their roster that need tending to in the offseason. They clearly need to add perimeter shooting, more capable scorers, and a small ball four that can play the power forward position when coach Mike Budenholzer places Giannis Antetokounmpo at center. Patching up all of those holes seems like a lengthy to-do list for Horst, but there is a player that could potentially fill all of them at once, that being Harrison Barnes. However, trading for the forward comes with its share of challenges.

Harrison Barnes is a perfect but difficult trade target for the Milwaukee Bucks

There is not much to dislike when thinking of how Harrison Barnes would hypothetically fit in with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Offensively, the 30-year-old has been a solid scorer throughout his entire career, having averaged 14.1 points per game while knocking down 45.3 percent of his field goal attempts, and an efficient 37.9 percent of his 3-point shots. Barnes is coming off one of his most productive seasons to date with the Sacramento Kings, as he averaged 16.4 points on .469/.394/.826 shooting splits during a 77-game stretch in the regular season. Adding Barnes would bring another quality scorer to town, which is something this team could certainly use, given how their offense has been known to stall, particularly in the postseason.

Looking closer at how Barnes would fit in with the Bucks offensively, the former NBA Champion’s 3-point shot would help get him up to speed quickly. Two areas where Barnes thrived last season were his catch-and-shoot looks from deep and his “wide-open” looks from three. NBA.com/stats states that Barnes shot 114-of-269 (42.4 percent) on his catch and shoot looks this past season, having thrived due to his quick release. Elsewhere, Barnes went 88-of-210 (41.9 percent) on his “wide open” triples, and that percentage ranked fifth among all forwards that attempted at least 200 3-pointers. Playing in Milwaukee, Barnes would get no shortage of both catch-and-shoot and wide-open looks courtesy of players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, and others, which could turn Milwaukee’s offense up a notch.

In addition to elevating Milwaukee’s offense, Barnes could possibly be the answer to their current small ball four predicament as well. After letting P.J. Tucker walk in free agency and the signing of Semi Ojeleye not going as planned, lineup versatility was something that the team clearly lacked in 2021-22, largely due to the absence of a small ball four. Standing at 6-foot-8, 225 lbs, Barnes fits the description of what the Bucks are looking for, giving them a versatile piece that can play either forward position and give Mike Budenholzer some lineup flexibility. Barnes would fit seamlessly at the four when Antetokounmpo goes to the five, especially with that prolific perimeter shooting he brings to the table. These lineups are when the Bucks can be at their most lethal, and bringing in a household name like Barnes would only amplify that further.

While the idea of dropping Barnes onto this roster is fascinating, it is likely too far-fetched for the Bucks to actually pull it off due to his hefty salary. Barnes is on the books for $18.4 million during the 2022-23 season, and given Milwaukee’s lack of financial flexibility, it is tough to put together an adequate package for Sacramento. The Kings likely would not entertain the idea of taking in a veteran center like Brook Lopez and his $13.9 million expiring contract, given that they traded for an All-Star center in Domantas Sabonis at the trade deadline. Would Grayson Allen, George Hill, and filler possibly be of interest? It is unlikely unless the Kings are simply looking to move Barnes. Nevertheless, that should not stop Horst from trying, given what Barnes could bring to the table for the Milwaukee Bucks as they look to bounce back next season.

Thinking about a hypothetical starting lineup of Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, Harrison Barnes, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Brook Lopez is fascinating, given the championship experience on display along with how all of the players complement one another.

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Ultimately, it could just be a pipe dream, but stay tuned to see if the Milwaukee Bucks end up kicking the tires on Harrison Barnes this offseason.