Knicks signing RJ Barrett to four-year contract extension

It looks like RJ Barrett will be off the table in trade talks for Donovan Mitchell.

It won’t be for the max, but ESPN reported late Monday that Barrett and the Knicks were finalizing a four-year, $120 million rookie contract extension, quoting his agent Bill Duffy.

The rookie max extension is five years, $185 million — a number that concerned members of the Knicks’ brass. While it’s still a hefty sum, it could’ve been worse with speculation Duffy was going all-in with his request. They will settle for $65 million less than the rookie max.

The Knicks could’ve done this July 1 but waited. The Post reported the Knicks were open to putting Barrett into a Mitchell deal and Utah had no qualifications with taking him on.

Now the calculus will change once Barrett is signed. ESPN also reported the Barrett trade will end Mitchell talks for now, stating Knicks president Leon Rose set a Monday night deadline to get a trade done or they would sign Barrett.

That seems like a lot of poker going on, though, as the report stated they were closing in on a Mitchell trade.

“There’s no place for Donovan to go right now,” a league source said. “The Knicks can still get him.”

RJ Barrett is signing a four-year extension with the Knicks.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

The Post has reported the Jazz are after four unprotected picks and the Knicks are looking to just give two with three conditional picks.

Not having Barrett in the deal would not seem to be deal-breaker. Sources contend unprotected picks are more important to Utah, which reportedly is after the Lakers’ 2027 and 2029 picks in what could be a three-team deal.

The Lakers could also net Cam Reddish in a three-team deal since they pursued him at the trade deadline. Reddish is part of agent Rich Paul’s stable of players — which means LeBron James and Anthony Davis could be on board.

Barrett had a big season as his scoring average jumped to 20.2 points per game. That he was willing to settle for less than the rookie max and wait for restricted free agency in 2023 showed how badly he did not want to go to Salt Lake City.

Donovan Mitchell.
Donovan Mitchell
PA

The imminent signing of Barrett means shooting guard Quentin Grimes could become more of a focal point in trade talks.

Grimes, who had a nice rookie year, is a Tom Thibodeau favorite. With a backcourt logjam if Mitchell is obtained, Grimes could feel he is best suited for Utah if he has eyes on a starting job.

Last season, Barrett said his goal is to become an All-Star in the next two seasons. He mentioned part of that will depend on whether the Knicks are a winning team. It is believed incentives based on Knicks victories would be part of the package.

On the surface Barrett’s numbers were powerful, but his 3-point shooting dipped from 40.1 percent in 2020-21 to 34.2 percent this past season. And he shot just 40.8 percent from the field overall.

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