Knicks’ Young Cornerstone Stamped With ‘Trade Bait’ Label

RJ Barrett Mitchell Robinson Knicks-Lakers

Getty RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson defend Kyle Kuzma during a 2020 game between the New York Knicks and the LA Lakers.

If one is of the belief that the New York Knicks‘ future is a bright one, former No. 3 overall pick RJ Barrett is probably central to those beliefs. And throughout the 2021-22 season, Barrett has definitely shown glimpses of what may lie in store.

There was the 46-point explosion against the Heat in February. He also dropped a 28-14-6 line versus the Clippers the previous month. Or, maybe an early-season, slump-busting effort in San Antonio — during which he hit 7-of-8 shots from downtown — is more your speed?

Also, this happened:

RJ BARRETT CALLED GAME vs. Celtics | New York KnicksROWAN. ALEXANDER. BARRETT. Game winner against the Boston Celtics.2022-01-07T05:09:33Z

As good as he has been at times, though, the 21-year-old has yet to establish himself as a bona fide franchise player. Barrett’s efficiency still leaves a lot to be desired — his effective field-goal percentage checks in at a woeful 46.8. He has also been a negative impact player this season with a net rating of minus-3.2 and a net swing of minus-5.7.

Given the level of uncertainty that still surrounds him, one hoops scribe is pitching Barrett as the means to lure a bigger fish on the trade market.

B/R: Barrett Is ‘Trade Bait’

Highlights | RJ Barrett's 27 Point Effort Secures Knicks Victory in OrlandoRJ Barrett posted 27 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds in the Knicks' win against the Magic.2022-04-04T00:43:38Z

In a piece identifying potential trade pieces this summer, Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley namechecked RJ Barrett alongside young stars like Tyler Herro, Deandre Ayton and Jonathan Kuminga as someone who could be dealt, writing:

There’s no telling when—or, honestly, if—Barrett will uncover the key to consistent stardom. If the Knicks want a surefire star sooner than later, they’ll have to pool together their best assets and trade for one. Barrett, the most coveted part of that collection, must be sacrificed to seal the deal.

During a March 10 episode of The HoopsHype Podcast, the New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy similarly appraised Barrett as the Knicks’ best trade piece, noting — as others have — that he could be the key to procuring an established star on the level of a Donovan Mitchell.

Really, though, moving Barrett would be all about turning the page from what appears to be a player personnel strategy gone horribly awry:

Rather than replay the misery of their lost 2021-22, the Knicks might want to find the fast-forward option that greatly improves their 2022-23 outlook. If an accelerator is out there, Barrett is the key to getting that player to Gotham.

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KD & Kyrie to Play Together at MSG for the First Time

Nearly three years have passed since Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving moved to Brooklyn during the 2019 offseason and yet, somehow, the All-Star duo has never appeared together at Madison Square Garden. But both players will be there with bells and whistles when the crosstown Nets play the Knicks on Wednesday.

“First game ever,” Irving said, via the New York Post.

“It’ll be an exciting environment where you know what to expect. It’s the mecca. So what better way to close out your season, the final few games, playing in one of the most historic arenas in the world.”


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