3 Instant Reactions After RJ Barrett's Knicks Contract Extension

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVAugust 30, 2022

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The New York Knicks made a huge commitment to their future Monday night, as ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that they were closing in on a contract extension with scoring wing RJ Barrett.

Barrett's agent, Bill Duffy, told Wojnarowski that the rookie extension is for four years and worth up to $120 million, making Barrett the youngest $100 million player in Knicks history at 22 years of age,

With the 2019 No. 3 draft pick out of Duke seemingly in New York for the long haul, here is a rundown of instant reactions regarding how the contract impacts the Knicks and the NBA.

Knicks Took Power Position in Mitchell Trade Talks

It is no secret that the Knicks and Utah Jazz have long been engaged in trade talks focused on All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell.

Few teams have the combination of first-round picks and promising, young talent that the Knicks possess, which instantly made them the favorite to land Mitchell once the Jazz made him available.

Per Wojnarowski, the Jazz were intent on getting Barrett in a potential deal for Mitchell, but as negotiations dragged on, Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose set a deadline of Monday for the trade to get done or else he would pursue an extension with Barrett.

Now, Barrett almost certainly won't be involved in a trade for Mitchell due to the poison-pill provision in his contract, meaning the two sides will largely have to focus on draft picks and other players if they still have interest in getting a deal done.

Depending on how desperate the Jazz are to trade Mitchell and enter a full rebuild after getting four first-round picks from the Minnesota Timberwolves for All-Star center Rudy Gobert, the Knicks perhaps now have the upper hand in negotiations.

New York took a sticking point off the table and can frame the trade around pieces it may be more open to trading, such as draft picks and Obi Toppin, Quentin Grimes or Immanuel Quickley.

It is also possible that the Knicks killed the trade by extending Barrett, but it may have been a risk worth taking if they believe the Jazz are committed to parting ways with Mitchell.

New York Solidified Chances of Competing for Playoff Spot in 2022-23 and Beyond

After New York reached the playoffs with a 41-31 record in 2020-21, last season was a major disappointment.

They dropped off to a 37-45 record, resulting in them missing the playoffs for the eighth time in the past nine seasons.

Veteran additions such as Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier fell flat, while Julius Randle took a step back after playing at close to an MVP level the previous season.

One positive was the continued progression of Barrett, who averaged a career-high 20.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 three-pointers made per game.

So far this offseason, the Knicks have kept the young core of Barrett, Toppin, Grimes and Quickley together, plus they re-signed big man Mitchell Robinson and moved on from Walker, Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson.

Above all else, New York signed a rising star in guard Jalen Brunson, who leveled up in a big way during the Dallas Mavericks' playoff run last season, averaging 21.6 points per game in 18 contests.

A lineup of Robinson, Randle, Barrett, Brunson and Quickley may already be enough to get the Knicks in the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, but adding Mitchell without giving up Barrett would likely remove all doubt.

Moving Barrett in a trade for Mitchell may have been a net positive in the immediate future, but having both Mitchell and Barrett on the same roster would significantly increase the chances of New York being a contender.

Barrett Could Be Most Impactful Knicks Draft Pick Since Ewing

The NBA draft has not been kind to the Knicks over the past few decades, which is why extending Barrett is such a significant move.

Per Wojnarowski, ESPN Stats & Info noted that Barrett's extension is the first multiyear extension the Knicks have given to a draft pick before the end of their rookie contract since Charlie Ward in 1999.

The Knicks did re-sign Robinson this offseason, but it wasn't until his contract ended and he became a free agent.

New York has cycled through blunder after blunder when it comes to draft picks, but it seems like the franchise finally has a good one in Barrett, who has All-Star potential and could stick for the long haul.

The Knicks' greatest draft pick was Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing, who went No. 1 overall in 1985, and no player has come close to touching his accomplishments since then.

The distinction of best Knicks draft pick since Ewing belongs to Kristaps Porzingis, who New York selected fourth overall in 2015.

Porzingis had massive potential and was named an All-Star in 2017-18, but he suffered a torn ACL that season and never played for the Knicks again before they traded him to Dallas.

Now with the Washington Wizards, Porzingis has consistently averaged over 20 points and close to nine rebounds per game since leaving New York, but he ultimately didn't leave much of a mark on the Knicks.

Barrett has a chance to far surpass what Porzingis did in the Big Apple, and if he secures even one All-Star nod in the coming years, he will solidify his status as the Knicks' best draft pick in more than three decades.


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