One year after returning to the NBA playoffs for the first time in eight years, the New York Knicks find themselves in the familiar situation of needing a serious influx of talent.
They have a few intriguing young pieces, as well as a former All-Star in Julius Randle who just had a down year, but they don’t have a team that looks like a postseason squad.
To that end, the Knicks have reportedly been interested in trading for three-time All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell.
The main piece the Jazz seem interested in is RJ Barrett, perhaps the brightest young prospect New York has.
“I spoke to the Knicks, and I’m telling you what I was told”
— Stephen A Smith tells NBA Radio that the Utah Jazz have interest in RJ Barrett in a Donovan Mitchell deal.
He also says the Jazz want 6 first-round picks, and the Knicks are willing to go to 4 or possibly 5 pic.twitter.com/rmPdY9kLOK
— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYork) August 17, 2022
Getting Mitchell would be a huge boon for the Knicks, a team that never seems to win in free agency or trades, but jettisoning Barrett to get him would be too much.
Instead, they should be trying to pair up Barrett with Mitchell.
Barrett May Have Star Potential
In the 2018-19 season, Barrett’s only season at Duke University, Zion Williamson may have been the talk of the team, but Barrett was also a star in his own right.
He put up 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game that year, which was good enough to become the third overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft by New York.
Barrett’s rookie season was nothing too impressive, but he improved the following year, averaging 17.6 points a game while shooting 44.1 percent overall and 40.1 percent from 3-point range.
This past season, he boosted his scoring to 20.0 points per contest, although his efficiency fell to just 40.8 percent from the field and 34.2 percent from downtown.
But Barrett has shown some ability to hit big shots in crunch time.
RJ Barrett: Clutch Shots / Game Winners pic.twitter.com/jKPObz3OpC
— TaMir🥷🏾 (@mirthee1st) July 23, 2022
On February 25, he had the game of his life (so far), dropping 46 points on the defensive-minded Miami Heat, including 30 in the first half.
RJ Barrett dropping 30 in one half against the 3rd best Defense in the league. pic.twitter.com/SWRYhIC4fJ
— ObiMuse (@ObiMuse) July 11, 2022
But Barrett has also shown the potential to become a very good defensive player, and at 6-foot-6, he has the ability to guard multiple positions.
RJ Barrett’s defense is such an underrated aspect to his game
He is developing into a true Two Way Star ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/iBOpnG7ILu
— Knicks Media 🗽 (@NYKnicks_Media) May 21, 2021
🎥 First game of the season, double overtime, everyone was tired.
But RJ Barrett kept his legs and played his best defense down the stretch, stopping Jayson Tatum in OT & 2OT to secure the Knicks win pic.twitter.com/24kNhjIr4U
— JB (@JeffreyBellone) October 21, 2021
This upcoming season will be huge for Barrett, as it will be an opportunity for him to truly break out and earn his first selection to the All-Star Game.
The Jazz Shouldn’t Get Greedy
Plenty of observers feel the Jazz are asking for too much in return for Mitchell.
While he is an outstanding player, he isn’t quite a true superstar or franchise player, and at 6-foot-1, he is undersized, which makes him vulnerable on the defensive end.
Utah already shocked the league earlier this summer when it took back an incredible haul for center Rudy Gobert, a monster on the boards and on the defensive end who is limited on the offensive end.
Full T-Wolves/Jazz Trade, per @wojespn ⬇️
– Malik Beasley
– Patrick Beverley
– Walker Kessler
– Jared Vanderbilt
– Leandro Bolmaro
– 2023 1st unprotected
– 2025 1st unprotected
– 2027 1st unprotected
– 2029 1st top-5 protected
– Rudy Gobert pic.twitter.com/dsUg1Sqleo
— Pickswise (@Pickswise) July 1, 2022
While it could be argued that such a trade has set the market for Mitchell, and for that matter, Kevin Durant, it may not necessarily end up being true.
If no one is willing to give up a king’s ransom, the seller will ultimately have to lower its asking price – it’s basic market economics and supply-and-demand, after all.