The Philadelphia 76ers intend to make a serious push for Golden State Warriors restricted free agent Harrison Barnes when the NBA’s offseason marketplace opens Friday at 12:01 a.m. ET, according to league sources.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Sixers have Barnes high on their list of potential targets and know the Warriors will not be able to retain him — despite their right to match any offer Barnes gets — if Golden State manages to win the Kevin Durant sweepstakes.
If Barnes signs an offer sheet with another team July 8, when the league’s annual moratorium on signings and trades is lifted, Golden State would have three days to match the offer or lose Barnes.
Sources said Tuesday that the Warriors, however, rate keeping Barnes as a top priority in the event they are unable to lure Durant away from the Thunder.
ESPN reported last week that Golden State is “all-in” on the pursuit of Durant, but sources said this week that the 2015 champions plan to retain Barnes and try to sign a proven big man — sources say Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, David West and Timofey Mozgov are all potential targets — if Durant stays with Oklahoma City or chooses to sign with another team.
The Warriors would also like to retain free-agent center Festus Ezeli, but how they fare in the Durant chase will play a big role in determining his fate.
A four-year max deal for Barnes would cost the Sixers in excess of $90 million, but Philadelphia must spend more than $40 million before the end of the next season to reach the league’s projected salary floor of $80-plus million. It is also conceivable, if things get that far, that Philadelphia and Golden State could strike a sign-and-trade arrangement if the Sixers sign Barnes to an offer sheet and the Warriors decide not to match.
Sources say Golden State also intends to keep Shaun Livingston on its books for next season. The Warriors could save a full $2.7 million if they release Livingston by Thursday, but sources confirmed Tuesday that the club is definitely keeping the veteran point guard, who will thus earn a guaranteed $5.7 million next season.
“I would love to be back with Warriors next year and feel there is something special cultivating with the organization,” Livingston said via text message. “The time spent there has allowed me the platform to see the ingredients of winning and the importance of culture.
“With KD, the ball is in his court and it should be. He’s earned this right and he has to make the best decision for him and his family.”