With about 60 days left to negotiate contract extensions (the deadline is Oct. 31) for forward Harrison Barnes and center Festus Ezeli, Warriors general manager Bob Myers said Friday the team is committed to making an effort to keep both young players.
“We’re going to work hard on both those guys,” Myers said in an interview with KNBR-680 AM. “And if we can do a deal, we’ll happily do it.”
The desire is by all accounts mutual, as Barnes and Ezeli – both of whom could become restricted free agents in 2016 – have expressed an interest in remaining with the NBA champs.
Neither will come particularly cheap, and Myers is bracing for the impact. The salary cap will rise rapidly in the coming years, and so will salaries. That much was evident in deals reached this summer, the most recent being Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s four-year, $52 million extension with Charlotte.
“I think Harrison is fully aware of that, and so is Festus,” Myers said. “I’m sure their agents are. So we have to find a common ground.”
With his ability to play small forward or power forward, Barnes is a key member of the playing rotation. Reinserted into the starting lineup last season, he filled his role admirably.
With NBA salaries rising, Barnes likely will command a deal north of $10 million per season. He turned 23 in May and will make $3.87 million next season.
Ezeli, 25, has been hampered by injuries, the most serious of which resulted in major surgery on his right knee. Yet he continues to develop. The Warriors love his defense and his offense has progressed enough that he’s a threat on the low block.
Were Ezeli available on the open market, he would have options in excess of $8 million per season.
Myers conceded that deals for Barnes and Ezeli are “the most important” decisions he faces going into next season. Training camp opens late next month.
“Will we get a deal done? I think that there’s motivation on both sides,” the GM said.
“But it’s a new world. With the new cap, you have to remove what you previously thought about what a player’s worth is in dollars. You have to them, instead, say, ‘What percentage of the cap are they going to take up?’"