It looks like RJ Barrett will be off the table in trade talks for Donovan Mitchell.
It will not be for the maximum, but ESPN reported late Monday that Barrett and the Knicks have finalized a four-year, $120 million rookie contract extension, citing his agent Bill Duffy.
The maximum extension of a rookie is five years, 185 million USD – a number that concerned members of the brass of the Knicks. While it’s still a hefty sum, it could be worse with speculation that Duffy went all-in with his request. They will settle for $65 million less than the rookie max.
The Knicks could have done this July 1 but waited. The Post reported that the Knicks were open to putting Barrett in a Mitchell deal and Utah had no qualms with taking him.
Now the calculation will change once Barrett is signed. ESPN also reported that the Barrett trade would end Mitchell’s negotiations for now, stating that Knicks president Leon Rose had set a Monday night deadline to make a trade or they would sign Barrett.
That seems like a lot of poker going on, as the report stated that they are 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.”
The Post reported that the Jazz are looking for four unprotected picks and the Knicks are only looking to give two with three conditional picks.
Not having Barrett in the deal wouldn’t seem like a deal breaker. Sources claim unprotected picks are more important to Utah, which is said to be after the Lakers’ 2027 and 2029 picks in what could be a three-team deal.
The Lakers could also get Cam Reddish in a three-team deal as they pursued him at the trade deadline. Redskins is part of agent Rich Paul’s stable of players — meaning 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 didn’t want to go to Salt Lake City.
Barrett’s impending signing means shooting guard Quentin Grimes could become more of a focus in trade talks.
Grimes, who had a nice rookie year, is a Tom Thibodeau favorite. With a backcourt if Mitchell is acquired, Grimes could feel he is the best fit for Utah if he has his eyes on a starting job.
Last season, Barrett said his goal was to become an All-Star in the next two seasons. He mentioned that part of that will depend on whether the Knicks are a winning team. It is believed incentives based on Knicks wins would be part of the package.
On the surface Barrett’s numbers were strong, but his 3-point shooting dipped from 40.1 percent in 2020-21 to 34.2 percent last season. And he shot just 40.8 percent from the field overall.