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How outsiders value the Knicks’ youngsters, part 2: RJ Barrett

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Don’t worry, he ain’t going nowhere. At least for now.

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This dog surely values Barrett higher than any human being could ever hope to.
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A few weeks back we discovered that outsiders seem to underrate Mitchell Robinson, with one blogger believing he could be traded to Toronto for the 29th pick in this year’s draft. Luckily, the Knicks didn’t follow the advice of that article, although they did sign Nerlens Noel who, considering Tom Thibodeau’s penchant for playing veterans, might seriously start over Robinson.

But that’s neither here nor there right now. Today, we’re here to look at how non-New Yorkers, including members of other fanbases, feel about another Knicks youngster.

Second up, RJ Barrett.

Fortunately, by all accounts, the Knicks are extremely reluctant to even discuss a deal for last year’s third overall pick. Now 20-years-old, Barrett is heading into his sophomore season with aspirations of shushing the haters.

His debut season featured some impressive performances, and his counting stats weren’t too shabby (14 points, 5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1 steal per game). In order to become an All-Star caliber player, however, the Knicks will need Barrett to improve his shooting across the board after a rookie campaign in which he shot 40% from the field, 32% from three and 61% from the free throw line.

Looking around the interwebs, it seems that people generally view Barrett the same way that Knicks fans do, which is to say that opinions of his value vary wildly. Let’s start at the top.

Could RJ be the centerpiece of a trade for Karl-Anthony Towns?

Before we get into hypothetical scenarios, the answer to this question is no, unless Barrett starts suddenly knocking down his free throws at an 80% clip and advances multiple areas of his game.

Still, according to this article from NBAanalysis.net, if the Minnesota Timberwolves end up deciding it’s time to move on from Towns for whatever reason, the Knicks could be a landing spot, so long as they’re willing to give up every asset they’ve stockpiled, starting with Barrett.

Here’s the hypothetically proposed trade:

Knicks get: Karl-Anthony Towns, Jarrett Culver

T-Wolves get: Barrett, Julius Randle, Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr., Kevin Knox, 20211st Round Pick (via the Mavericks), 2021 1st Round Pick (via the Clippers), 2022 1st Round Pick (this is the Knicks’ own pick)

To reiterate: the only way this is even close to remotely possible is if Towns demands a trade and says he wants to go to the Knicks to reunite with his former head coach. And although Barrett is the main course, this deal features the Knicks giving up an entire cabinet of sustenance. This proposal does not mean the writer believes a Barrett-for-Towns swap makes sense. It means the writer thinks the Knicks could put together a pretty enticing package if the big man were to become disgruntled.

It would be better to hang onto a player like Karl-Anthony Towns, but Minnesota has options. They could look at it differently because they have been bad with Towns, so what’s the difference if they trade him? Especially for a package including RJ Barrett and three-first round picks.

Knox and Ntilikina have been bad, that is obvious. Barrett showed some sort of promise during his rookie season and Randle is a proven big man who is coming off his best season in New York. The Wolves just added Edwards with the first pick in the draft and could begin to stockpile picks moving forward.

This is a deal that would speed up the rebuilding process. Adding young players and picks should be exactly what the Timberwolves try to do if they move Towns.

If Towns is truly unhappy, there is no sense in keeping him around. It is more of a headache than it is worth. The return would be huge for a team that could use it.

Bringing us back down to earth with a more reasonable trade that also won’t happen.

Prior to the draft, the Bulls blogger at Fansided ruminated on a few potential deals, including one that would bring Barrett to Chicago. The speculative trade, which was focused on the fact that the Knicks reportedly wanted to maybe move up in the draft, saw the Knicks sending Barrett and the eighth pick to the Bulls for the fourth pick and small forward Chandler Hutchison.

Hutchison, drafted 22nd overall in 2018, hasn’t shown much in his short career to date. Essentially, this deal was Barrett and No. 8 for No. 4.

This way, the Knicks do not have to give up [Mitchell] Robinson. The Bulls get a budding young guard in Barrett, plus New York’s no. 8 pick while dealing the fourth selection and swingman Chandler Hutchison.

Ew, gross. This would have made a little teensy bit of sense if there was some stud in the top four that the Knicks clearly wanted, but they actually got their guy in Obi Toppin. This was a poorly proposed fake trade.

Another deal that’s no longer possible but shows Barrett is highly valued by some.

One of Posting and Toasting’s brother blogs, Celticsblog.com, recently showed they realize Barrett is a valuable piece while exploring what might happen with Gordon Hayward in the wake of his decision to opt out of his $34.2 million player option for this season.

Of course, Hayward ultimately wound up in Charlotte as part of a sign-and-trade, so this is moot. But it’s still beneficial to see what our brethren think about Barrett. They admitted that Barrett wouldn’t be up for grabs in a sign-and-trade for Hayward. Hooray!

As our Keith Smith and Ryan Bernadoni note, even if Hayward chooses the Knicks or Hawks, it’d benefit both of those teams to front-load his deals by doing a sign-and-trade with Boston. This wouldn’t land RJ Barrett or John Collins in Boston, but it would get the Celtics at least something for Hayward.

Conclusion

Where Robinson is undervalued because he’s heading into year three and still hasn’t definitively earned the starting center position, Barrett is correctly seen as the current future of the Knicks. Outsiders understand that the Knicks are only going to consider parting with Barrett if it’s part of a trade for someone significant.

The hope should still be that Barrett finds his way in New York, improves his shooting and becomes a multi-time All-Star. But it’s nice to know that some people, even if those people are crazy, could see Barrett being traded as part of a package for someone as good as KAT.