After looking like the favorite to land Donovan Mitchell for a month, the New York Knicks were outbid by the Cleveland Cavaliers, who gave three unprotected first-round picks, the right to two pick swaps, Collin Sexton (sign and trade), Lauri Markkanen sent. and 2022 No. 14 overall pick Ochai Agbaji to the Utah Jazz in exchange for Mitchell.
Three days earlier, the Knicks had signed RJ Barrett, who had offered them to Utah as part of their Mitchell package, to a four-year, $120 million extension, as announced in this glowing statement.
“We are excited to announce a well-deserved extension for RJ Barrett, a core part of our team’s base,” said Knicks President Leon Rose. “At just 22 years old, he has taken his game to the next level every season, making him a fixture on both sides of the field. We believe he will continue to improve because of his passion for the game and dedication to his We want to continue to build our team and culture around players like RJ who possess these values and qualities.”
Steve Berman of the New York Post paints a different picture, one that reflects not a team “excited” to commit to Barrett long-term, but a team nearly forced to do so. From Berman:
According to an NBA source, the Knicks would have preferred not to sign Barrett to a hefty contract extension at this point. They wanted to wait at least until the mid-October deadline to see him at training camp — or even July 1, while he had a limited time. free agency.
“They didn’t want to pay RJ now, they can RJ, but he’s not one of their guys,” the NBA source said. “The preference was to trade him in a Donovan deal. … If they got Donovan without Barrett in the deal, they wouldn’t pay RJ now.”
The source said that as soon as the Knicks caught wind, the Cavaliers were in charge before Mitchell, they made an effort to reach an agreement with Barrett.
“They had to do something,” the source says.
Let’s make one thing clear here: this is an “NBA” resource. That could be anyone. A low-level scout for the Pacers, as far as we know. It is not listed as a source close to the team, or to Rose, or to anyone else who would seem to have a direct line with the decision-makers in New York.
That said, we also don’t know that this source doesn’t know what he or she is talking about. It’s a report. Make it what you want. What we do know, or at least been reported a bit more concretely, is that the Knicks were indeed ready to trade Barrett to get Mitchell.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that Barrett was part of New York’s offer in July for Mitchell. There are reports that New York was unwilling to add Quentin Grimes or more unprotected picks to its offer for Mitchell, but Barrett would almost certainly become a central part of any outgoing package.
Also, the extension New York Barrett gave is no max. It’s a lot of money, no question, but if you don’t extend your No. 3 overall pick for max deal, let alone if you actively try to trade it , aren’t you That excited about what you’ve seen of the man. To Barrett, $120 million feels right. He could be an All-Star. But he isn’t yet.
It’s a believable and frankly logical stance that New York wanted to wait and see how Barrett’s season goes before committing to him for the long haul. The flip side of that, of course, is that they might have gotten him cheap if he becomes an All-Star this season. As a restricted free agent next summer, Barrett could have forced New York to pay much more than $120 million for four to keep him with only one other team to make a higher bid.
Stripping out all the details, this feels like a bit of a consolation prize for New York. Hey, we don’t have Mitchell, let’s at least lock up our own man so it looks like we did something on our own terms.. Whether it’s what New York wanted or not, keeping Barrett and the future flexibility of eight eligible forage harvests is a better outcome to me than trading the farm for Mitchell.
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