The Cavaliers are very high on the 20-year-old small forward and appear unlikely to let him slip past them at the No. 4 slot in the June 28 draft, according to sources. While this week’s predraft combine in Chicago and subsequent team workouts could always change things, rival executives are planning for Barnes to be off the board by the time the fifth pick (Sacramento) rolls around.
“He’s a pretty big deal to them,” one such executive said.
Barnes, a skilled and versatile scorer and a capable defender, would be the sort of two-way threat that coach Byron Scott values. He averaged 17.1 points (on 44 percent shooting from the field and 35.8 percent from three-point range) and 5.2 rebounds as a sophomore, though he shot just 32.8 percent overall and 26 percent from beyond the arc while averaging 14 points in four games during the NCAA tournament. And considering he once announced his decision to attend North Carolina during a nationally televised segment on ESPN in which he picked between six suitors, maybe Barnes is destined for Cleveland.