OAKLAND -- The injury for which Warriors coach Mark Jackson expressed little concern on Monday has evolved into nagging discomfort that likely will sideline Harrison Barnes for the next two preseason games -- and could linger into the regular season.
Barnes did not accompany the team to Utah on Tuesday and still was not able to practice Thursday because of inflammation in his left foot.
While Jackson said backup center Jermaine O’Neal (lower back pain) was held out of practice as a precaution and should be available for the preseason games against the Los Angeles Lakers next week in China, the coach conceded Barnes’ status is much less stable.
"Jermaine probably could’ve (practiced)," Jackson said. "I just wanted to give him another day, especially preparing for the long trip.
"But Harrison, obviously, (with an) inflamed toe, we just want to give him a little bit of time, shut him down a little bit and allow it to heal.
Asked directly if Barnes might play either game against the Lakers, Jackson conceded "probably" not. Moreover, he made no assurances about the regular season.
"We’ll find that out," the coach said, noting that Barnes will be closely monitored as he rests and receives treatment. "But I’m not an expert on that. We’ll do everything we can do to put him in position to be ready. And hopefully, for his sake and for our sake, he’s ready."
The upshot: Barnes almost certainly will begin the regular as the team’s sixth man -- assuming his foot heals during the next couple weeks.
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It’s not that Barnes, who started 81 games as a rookie last season, would lose his job because of injury; it’s that the injury won’t allow him to compete for it. He was one of three players, along with Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson, vying for two starting spots, big guard and small forward.
And now it appears those spots will, and should, go to Iguodala and Thompson, who came off the bench in the Warriors' first two preseason games while Barnes started.
Suddenly, it appears Jackson’s toughest lineup decision is a whole lot easier -- though it comes with increasing anxiety about the status of his most explosive player.