With the New York Knicks opening training camp this week, fans and media pundits alike are looking forward to seeing more clips and bits of news pertaining to the progressions each one of the players has made since last season start to surface in droves.
This kind of exciting content is bound to start piling up as we inch closer to October 19’s regular season tip-off, and perhaps the most highly anticipated player fans are awaiting to see a glimpse of is fourth-year wing, RJ Barrett.
Fresh off inking a new four-year, $120 million extension, the 22-year-old managed to break a long-standing streak of New York not re-signing their draft selections, becoming the first player since Charlie Ward back in 1999 to have earned a new deal with the club.
Now, despite what this contract may insinuate, things weren’t all that jubilant between Barrett and the Knicks organization this past offseason.
In fact, for a considerable amount of time, there were strong talks about how they could realistically use him as a key piece in an outbound package to execute a blockbuster trade for Donovan Mitchell.
Of course, such a move was never made and the former lottery pick remains in orange and blue heading into 2022-23.
And while some may believe that there could be some lingering hard feelings as we approach the start of the season, at least when it comes to the front office’s side of the equation, adoration is certainly illuminating from within this franchise.
Leon Rose Praises Knicks Wing
In a September 23 interview on MSG Network with analyst Alan Hahn, New York Knicks President of Basketball Operations, Leon Rose, discussed how instead of trading RJ Barrett for Donovan Mitchell they opted to extend him to a lofty deal instead.
And when asked what kind of message this decision sends to the wing, the executive didn’t mince words.
“The message that it sends is RJ, you’re a centerpiece of the New York Knicks,” Rose said. “You are a key piece to our future and to our success. He is a key piece to our core. We have a great young core.
“I mean, RJ’s 22 years old and, you know, he’s continually gotten better each season, he’s a two-way player, and, you know, his numbers are in the company of elite.
“His numbers are in the company of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Luka Doncic, and Kevin Durant. They’re the only other four players that by the age of 22, scored 3,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, and I believe it was 300 three-point shots.”
As Rose mentioned, since being selected third overall back in 2019 Barrett has managed to improve his play with every passing season and now heads into the upcoming season fresh off a 2021-22 campaign that saw him post career highs in numerous statistical categories, as he finished with impressive averages of 20.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game.
Possible Knicks Target on the Market
Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on September 25 that veteran Jae Crowder and the Phoenix Suns have mutually agreed to part ways, making the forward an available option on the trade market.
While there’s no official word on whether or not they’re targeting him, in a September 20 article, Brett Siegel of Sports Illustrated tabbed the 32-year-old as a possible trade option for the Knicks to consider, citing his two-way skill set coupled with their postseason aspirations as a reason for why.
The forward has seen nine postseason appearances, five of which saw deep runs, and has totaled 107 games played throughout his 11-year career.
Over the last three campaigns, Crowder has served as a key rotational piece on two separate teams that went on to clinch NBA Finals berths, posting efficient 3-and-D averages of 10.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.1 steals per game on 36% shooting from deep and sporting a defensive box plus-minus rating of 1.2 during this timespan.
For his career, he boasts per-game averages of 9.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and a steal.