LeBron James isn’t happy with the way Harrison Barnes got traded on Wednesday. In what appeared to be a jab at critics of Anthony Davis, who is using his own power to try to facilitate a trade, James pointed out the double standard: Trading is a harsh business for all parties, but teams are not vilified for dealing players while players are vilified for asking for trades.
Harrison Barnes stayed on the bench in the fourth quarter after news broke that the Dallas Mavericks forward had been traded to Sacramento during his team’s 99-93 victory over the Charlotte Hornets. The 26-year-old lingered on the floor a few extra moments after the game to chat to some Charlotte opponents, then walked through a throng of fans who seemed to want to say goodbye after seeing the news break on their phones during the second half.
Dirk Nowitzki said he realized something was up when Barnes didn’t replace him early in the fourth quarter as usual, with the 40-year-old playing a limited role in his record 21st season with the Mavericks. Nowitzki wasn’t surprised that Barnes stuck around after word of the trade got out. “He’s a better man than me,” said Nowitzki, who scored eight points. “Everybody else would have bounced out. He’s just a genuinely good dude and he’s obviously got bonds with some of these players here for life. That’s the kind of guy he is.”
Meanwhile, LeBron James posted on Instagram, pointing out players are criticized when they ask for a trade but teams do not face the same scrutiny. “So let me guess this is cool cause they had to do what was best for the franchise right???,” he wrote. “Traded this man while he was literally playing in the game and had ZERO idea. I’m not knocking who traded him because it’s a business and you have to do what you feel what’s best but I just want this narrative to start to get REAL/CHANGE and not when a player wants to be traded or leaves a Franchise that he’s a selfish/ungrateful player but when they trade you, release , waive, cut etc etc it’s best for them! I’m ok with both honestly, truly am. Just call a ♠️ a ♠️!!”
Hornets forward Nicolas Batum said the mechanics of the trade were a first for him. “That’s really the first time I’ve witnessed it,” said of seeing someone traded during a game. “During practice, on the plane, bus, stuff like that, yes, that happened to me. But during the game? I have not witnessed that being live.”
During the game itself Luka Doncic scored 19 points in his third triple-double, he is the first teenager with multiple triple-doubles in a single season.
James was not the only All-Star who expressed his frustration with the chatter around trades and free-agency. Kevin Durant, who has been linked to a move to the New York Knicks this summer, said he was sick of being asked about his future. “Every time I say something it’s getting twisted up and thrown out in so many different publications, try to tear me down with my words that I say,” Durant said, speaking after he helped the Golden State Warriors to victory over the San Antonio Spurs. “So when I don’t say nothing, it’s a problem. I just want to play ball. I want to go to the gym and go home, that’s all. Is that a problem?”