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Knicks Rumors: Optimism RJ Barrett, NY Will Find 'Common Ground' on New Contract

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJune 30, 2022

Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Some within the New York Knicks "are optimistic that there will be common ground" regarding an extension for RJ Barrett, per SNY's Ian Begley.

Barrett is entering the final guaranteed year of his rookie deal and will earn $10.9 million in 2022-23. He and the Knicks can begin negotiating a new contract this summer.

In some cases, extending a player beyond his rookie deal can be relatively straightforward: Give him the max and move on. At the other extreme, a team can sour on a draft pick and be content to move on altogether.

Barrett is in the middle ground where he hasn't played his way into a max contract, but he has done enough to show why the Knicks should continue factoring him into their long-term plans. Through three seasons, he's averaging 17.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists while shooting 41.8 percent overall and 35.7 percent from beyond the arc.

The Athletic's Fred Katz canvassed 16 NBA front-office officials who pegged Barrett's value between $15 million and $30 million annually.

"No one advocated for the Knicks to give him the max. Exactly half of the responses were a nice, clean four years, $100 million, making it by far the most common proposal from the polled executives," Katz wrote.

New York has a clear incentive to get something done now because allowing this to linger into next summer could have an adverse impact on Barrett's relationship with the team.

In theory, the Knicks could simply let the 22-year-old play out his rookie deal and go from there.

Barrett will be a restricted free agent in 2023 if he receives and turns down the $14.3 million qualifying offer. Should he and the team fail to strike a bargain, New York could let him test his market around the NBA and match whatever offer sheet he gets from another franchise.

The fraught dynamic between Deandre Ayton and the Phoenix Suns illustrates the potential risk in that approach.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported last fall how Ayton and the Suns differed in their contract valuations. The 23-year-old center never seemed to forget about the perceived slight.

Now, somebody who appeared to be a foundational piece for Phoenix just one year ago could be out the door.

That would be the doomsday scenario for the Knicks, one that doesn't seem likely for now.

But that doesn't mean New York's front office should take negotiations with Barrett and his representatives lightly.

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