Report: Lakers intend to pursue Harrison Barnes in free agency

The NBA free agency period is less than three weeks away, and a number of players are on the verge of a massive pay day.

With the salary cap ballooning to around $90 million this summer, the three tiers of max contracts will increase as well. This year’s free agency class lacks star power, but there will likely be no shortage of lucrative deals still thrown out.

Harrison Barnes is a player that will be the recipient of one of those lucrative deals, as he is set to hit the market as a restricted free agent on July 1. Since the Golden State Warriors can match any offer sheet that he signs, it will take max money or an offer close to it to pry away the 24-year-old from the defending champions.

According to Sporting News’ Sean Deveney, the Los Angeles Lakers are among the teams that are willing to pay the price needed to acquire Barnes.

Several teams with significant cap space this summer — the Celtics, Lakers, Suns, Mavericks among them — have the intention of pursuing Barnes, especially as a fallback option for [Kevin] Durant.

Deveney also notes that if Barnes asks the Warriors not to match an offer and expresses his desire to be a more featured part of an offense, the team may be inclined to honor his request.

Barnes has struggled quite a bit this year, but has flashed some of his potential as a versatile option out on the wing. For any team that signs him, the hope would be that he grows into the substantial deal that is surely coming his way, being that he just turned 24.

Of course, if the Lakers are able to lure Barnes to Los Angeles, he would be coming over with new head coach Luke Walton, which would make the transition much smoother for both. But how would Walton implement Barnes with the likely arrival of Brandon Ingram with the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft? That would be one of the challenges right away for Walton, which could result in Ingram and Barnes playing small-ball power forward at times.

Even with the probable acquisition of Ingram, the Lakers will look to add depth and versatility out on the wing. Only time will tell if Barnes is a viable option in that regard, but it appears the Lakers are willing to take a chance on him.

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