DALLAS, Texas—Harrison Barnes has been a Dallas Maverick for less than one week, but the ex-Warrior has already hit the ground running with his new team.
Barnes, who signed a four-year, $94 million contract with Dallas last week, met with the media for the first time since signing on Tuesday morning at American Airlines Center.
“It’s great [to be here],” Barnes said. “I’ve gotten a chance to work with the coaching staff. It’s been good.”
Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle, a former NBA Coach of the Year, has some definite ideas about how he can get the most out of Barnes’ impressive skill set.
“The biggest thing Coach Carlisle and I have been working on is footwork, just being more efficient,” Barnes, 24, said. “That’s a big area I can grow in and [that] will help me a lot as it relates to scoring. Whether it’s [using] jab steps or creating space, [I’m working on] not having so much inefficiency in terms of trying to get a shot.”
Golden State head coach Steve Kerr is the only coach Barnes had known in his first four years in the Association. And he knows that anytime a player comes to a new team and thus a new coach, there is always some sort of acclimation period.
He savored his time playing under Kerr and knows playing for Carlisle, who has also had his share of success, leading the Mavs to the NBA title in 2011, is a new experience he looks forward to.
“I’ve been lucky in my first four years to be able to win a championship and get coached by Steve Kerr,” Barnes said. “And now I get to play for another coach who’s won a championship. I’m looking forward to that.”
However, Barnes isn’t only excited about now being coached by Carlisle; he’s also pretty stoked about now being teammates with a future Hall of Famer like Dirk Nowitzki, who last week signed a two-year, $40 million deal that will ensure the franchise icon retires a Maverick.
Like most of his NBA colleagues, Barnes has always admired, respected and been in awe of Nowitzki’s work from the opposing bench. But now that he can call him a teammate, it’s another paradigm shift he welcomes.
“Super-excited [about playing with Dirk],” Barnes said. “You look at his career and how much work he put in and sacrifices he made, the fact he won a championship. There’s so much experience that can be learned from that. I want to be a sponge.”
Barnes left the Bay Area and a perennial contender in the Warriors to pursue a max-level contract, which is what he received from Dallas.
And he knows that higher expectations from fans and media alike accompany such a contract, but that is exactly the type of pressure he embraces.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned in four years [in the league] is that everything is all right when you win games,” Barnes said. “So that’s the biggest thing I’m focused on. This team, even with injuries last year, finished second in the division and made the playoffs. With this group coming back and hopefully staying away from injuries, we should have a good shot.”
Barnes has only been a Mav for just a few days, but later in the day on Tuesday, he was going to the makeshift memorial set up in front of Dallas Police headquarters to honor the five officers tragically shot and killed last Thursday evening.
HB felt visiting that memorial was the right thing to do.
“[I’m going] just to pay respects,” Barnes said. “It was obviously a very tragic thing that happened. I just want to pay my respects to all the families affected as well as (helping) to end gun violence in America, and to hear the President speak.”
This entire experience, of changing teams and getting acclimated to a new team, new city, new coaches and new fans, is foreign to Harrison Barnes, but he has someone else new to the Mavs, fellow ex-Warrior Andrew Bogut, who is in a similar situation and will help ease his transition.
“It [having Bogut here also] makes it a lot easier, just because we’re similar,” Barnes said. “It’ll help me get adjusted. I think we’re good pieces to add to this group.”
Barnes calls Bogut “a great rim protector,” and someone who brings much to the table, especially regarding rebounding, in an area the Mavs have been a bit deficient in over the past few seasons.
“He’s been that guy who’s erased a lot of mistakes [the past four years in Golden State],” Barnes said. “Interior defense and rebounding, those are big things that I think he’ll be able to bring to this team. And he’s a good passer too.”