The Golden State Warriors were confident that second-year swingman Harrison Barnes would be ready to return from a left foot injury by Wednesday's regular-season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers. There's a bit of doubt creeping in about whether Barnes will be able to suit up, however, according to Marcus Thompson of the Contra Costa Times.
Warriors coach Mark Jackson hasn't revealed specifics on the injury, but he acknowledged Thursday that it could keep Barnes out of the season-opener. Thompson reports that playing on the injured foot would bring about some risk so the best course of action is rest in order for it to get completely healthy.
Barnes went down with the injury in the Warriors' second preseason game on Oct. 7 and the 21-year-old hasn't practiced with the team since.
Barnes entered training camp with increased expectations after an impressive playoff run last year. The addition of Andre Iguodala made it a question of whether Barnes would start or come off the bench, but he's a key part of the team regardless.
If Barnes is unable to go for the opener, the starting lineup is almost certain to be Iguodala, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee and Andrew Bogut. That's an excellent group, but not having Barnes around is a hit to a bench already struggling to find scoring in the absences of the departed Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry.
With Barnes in the lineup, Jackson can anchor the second unit with either him or Thompson, which would provide the scoring punch it's currently lacking. Toney Douglas, Kent Bazemore and Nemanja Nedovic are nowhere near as adept as Jack creating offense while Marreese Speights and Jermaine O'Neal don't have the post game of Landry.
If the bench continues to struggle and Barnes' foot remains an issue, Jackson will have to rely more on his starters than he had hoped. The plan was to bring the starters' minutes down this year, but Jackson may not be able to afford that if the bench can't provide enough offense.
The hope is that Barnes will return soon and alleviate some of those second-unit scoring issues. But if the injury turns out to be something like plantar fasciitis, it could linger and pose potential long-term problems.