OAKLAND -- The question in various forms had been floated several times recently to Warriors interim coach Luke Walton, and each time his response was a quick deflection.
But when asked Tuesday if small forward Harrison Barnes could return to the starting lineup as soon as Wednesday night against the Nuggets in Denver, Walton actually paused for a moment.
“Possibly, yes,” he said.
Barnes returned Jan. 4 after missing 16 games with a high ankle sprain sustained on Nov. 27 against the Suns. But he’s coming off the bench now, while the teammate that replaced him in the starting lineup, Brandon Rush, continues to start.
Barnes has played in each of the past five games, though, with his minutes incrementally rising from 20 on Jan. 4 to 27 Monday night against Miami.
“Right now we’re just more interested in getting him more minutes,” Walton said. “Our team is playing great right now. Obviously, there is no need to change the starting lineup.
“Harrison’s a very good player and eventually he’ll be back in there. But as long as he’s playing more and more minutes and that ankle continues to get better and he looks more comfortable within the offense. Eventually it’ll just happen.”