Some might say Harrison Barnes got the short end of the stick in the whole Kevin Durant free agency saga. But immediately after KD shocked the league, Barnes signed a four-year max deal worth a reported $94 million with the Mavericks that will pay him handsomely to play alongside one of the greatest scorers in league history, Dirk Nowitzki.
But before Barnes teams up with Dirk in Dallas, he’s spending his competing as the youngest member on Team USA. The squad which includes ex-teammates Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, will be heavy favorites to win gold and would complement nicely the ring Barnes earned with the Warriors in 2015.
We had a chance to catch up the Maverick’s forward prior to the U.S. kicking off its run of exhibitions before Rio and we talked about his partnership with Fitbit, his first impression of Dallas, and what it means to represent his country.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
How did the partnership with Fitbit come about?
You know, naturally there’s a connection between technology and basketball. We’re always trying to figure out the best way to improve performance, get an edge on the competition, and just become better. The opportunity aligned itself for me to partner with Fitbit, and it’s really beneficial for me because they’re the market leader in wearable technology.
You’ve been using the Fitbit Blaze for the Olympics. What’s your favorite feature on it?
For me, my favorite feature is that it tracks my sleep. I’m running so much, and just in terms of flights, travel, and tours, it allows me to say, “Okay, I’m trying to get eight hours of sleep. What am I at this week?” Oh, I’m at seven hours, I’m at six hours, I’m at eight hours and five minutes. It even goes so far as to showing me when I wake up at night. So I think for me, it’s just about becoming more consistent in that area.
What was free agency like?
It was pretty hectic, you know? For it to only be five or six days, it felt like two months. [Laughs]. But, I’m very happy with where I ended up. I’m glad to be in Dallas and be a Maverick. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity.
Did you expect to be back with the Warriors or did you always know you were going to be headed to a new team?
The Warriors communicated to me upfront that they were going to be aggressive in free agency, and that was sort of my cue to start looking at other teams and kind of decide where I wanted to be.
And obviously they got a superstar in Kevin Durant. Did you ever feel betrayed by the players and the team?
Oh, no. This is the NBA, so there’s basketball and then there’s business. I’m obviously proud of what we accomplished here as a team in terms of winning a championship. For that, I’ll be forever bonded with those guys.
What would winning a gold at this year’s Olympics mean to you?
It would mean everything. Being able to win gold would be huge because you’re playing for so much more than your team, your organization, or your city. You’re playing for your country, and to be able to represent Team USA across your chest and go up there and compete, it’s the highest honor.
For you, do you think that would trump winning a championship?
[Laughs] That’s a tough question. I guess I have to win gold first. Even just playing on this stage, it just means so much more than playing for your teams. I mean, you look at us, we come from different walks in the NBA but we’re reuniting over representing for our country. I think that’s what means the most.
Who on the Olympic team would you say you’re closest with?
Klay Thompson, probably. Him, Draymond, Kryie. Those have been the guys that I’ve, you know, I played with Draymond and Klay the last four years, and I’ve known Kyrie since high school. So, those are the guys I’m closest to.
I mean my first real impression of Dallas was the fact that he wined and dined me at IHOP. I mean I think that’ll forever BE etched in my mind.
What are some takeaways and learnings that you’ve gotten from the superstars on your team?
The attention to detail everyday in practice. I think these guys are maniacal about the little things, not only in terms of on the court technical stuff, but in the weight room, taking care of their bodies or eating. And you know for me that’s where my Fitbit really taught me a lot just in terms of being more consistent with how I train, monitoring my heart rate, and keeping track of my sleep. Just taking care of my entire training on and off the court.
Now moving to your new team, the Mavericks. Do you have any expectations for this upcoming season?
My expectations are just to learn and grow. I’m fortunate to be able to play for a coach in Coach Carlisle who’s won a championship as a player and a coach, and to be able to just learn as much as I can from guys like Dirk, D-Will, Wesley Matthews.
I saw that you got lunch Mark Cuban when you landed in Dallas. Is there anything that he has said to you or done that’s really stuck with you?
Yeah, I mean my first real impression of Dallas was the fact that he wined and dined me at IHOP. I mean I think that’ll forever be etched in my mind. That cinnamon French toast was amazing.
Is that what he got or is that what you got?
That’s what I got.
What’d he order?
He tried to be healthy. He tried to get some eggs whites and turkey bacon, and that kind of stuff.