LAS VEGAS – Of the 20 or so NBA hopefuls grunting through a three-hour Summer League workout Thursday at Sierra Vista High School, only one man wearing a Warriors jersey was a certified NBA player.
Harrison Barnes, however, is compelled to recertify himself.
Barnes followed a memorable postseason as rookie with a mostly forgettable second season. The Warriors forward started in 2012-13, lost his starting job with the acquisition of Andre Iguodala last summer and never really recovered.
Barnes addressed that matter and much more during an afternoon conversation. Some questions and answers are edited for brevity and clarity.
Q: You don't have to be here, so what brought you out?
A: I honestly enjoy the training-camp part. Everyone is so hungry here. This is better than any pickup I could get. If I play in the Pro-Am or play at a college, I don't know if the same competitive juices flowing.
Q: Coach Kerr says seeing you here is a statement about you and your desire to improve and gives you a jump on learning the new coaching staff. Was that a factor?
A: I definitely want to get a feel for the new staff. I want to see what kind of offensive stuff we're going to be running. And to get a personality feel for each coach, being around Coach (Ron) Adams while he's running the defense, being around Coach (Alvin) Gentry when he's running the offense – and to see Coach Kerr's demeanor.
Q: What have you noticed that's different with the changing of staffs?
A: Not comparing one staff with another, but it's very structured. A lot of people are on the Ps and Qs. Everybody is making sure we're doing things the right way. It's technical. It's film, with different coaches teaching different things. In general, it should help us with discipline this year.
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Q: We all saw the ups and downs last season. Is this, in a sense, a fresh start for you?
A: (Laughs). Well, last year was an awful season so you want to flush it. With a new staff and a new system, I'm definitely looking forward to playing like that. Last year, there was a lot of isolation basketball, which is tough to score in. As a player, you might think it's great – but it's hard to be efficient like that. This year, I will be put in different situations, more attacking and less isolation.
Q: How hard is it for you to keep the trade (as part of a package for Kevin Love) speculation out of your mind? Or is that even possible?
A: I don't know how anyone else, but I pretty much came into the league on the block. (Laughs). I don't think there's ever been a trading point when my name wasn't out there. At this point, it's very natural. I was in this trade talk, then I was in that trade talk . . . you learn not to pay too much attention to it.
Q: So you are able to focus on yourself and your game?
A: I learned early on that you can't have the mentality that you might get traded, or start looking at possible scenarios in which I might be traded, because then you're not fully invested in what you’re doing right now. My thing is, I think I'm going to be here forever. That's my mentality. So I'm focused on the work here. If I get traded, I'll approach that when it comes.
Q: We've seen you as two different players. Let's keep in mind that you just turned 22. But fans still wonder: Which guy is the real HB? How do you want to be perceived?
A: We play in a highly scrutinized league. The best player is getting criticized as if he's on a D-League team, as if he's at the lowest spot on the roster. A year ago, Tim Duncan was too old. Now he's the perfect age. I tell people that I continue to work on my game. It's always going to be changing. Hopefully, I keep getting better. But there are going to be stops along the road. I'm going to continue to work, hopefully begin to trend upward. But the league is (up and down). It's not straight up, which I would like it to be. You have to adapt.
Q: Without getting into numbers, do you have a vision of what you want to accomplish next season?
A: I want to contribute more. Last year, coming off the bench . . . that was a lot for me to handle. I had never been in that situation before. This year, I'm not really focused on that. It is what it is. My thing is just go out there and be consistent. As a team, no one's goal is to get to the first round and lose. So our goal is to continue to push.