REPORT: RJ Barrett ‘Finalizing’ Rookie Extension

RJ Barrett is reportedly set to “finalize” a four-year extension worth approximately $120 million, according to NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski.

Barrett is the Knicks’ first draft to agree to a multi-year extension after his rookie deal since Charlie Ward in 1990, ending a remarkable 23-year drought for New York. The agreement also muddies the water of a possible trade to acquire Donovan Mitchell. Barrett’s new deal includes a poison pill provision that would force the Jazz and Knicks to switch up any trade package significantly.

At this point, New York is the primary suitor for Mitchell. Utah is set for a rebuild after moving Rudy Gobert to the Timberwolves this summer. The former Duke star’s involvement in trade negotiations was why his extension deal took so long to be discussed.

Knicks president of basketball ops Leon Rose reportedly set a Monday night deadline with Utah to reach a Mitchell-Knicks trade agreement; otherwise, New York would commit to extending Barrett, according to Woj. Woj reported that Jazz-Knicks trade negotiations heated up on deal points that included Barrett in the package tightened over the weekend and into Monday.

However, there was still a divide on a Mitchell trade per Woj. Once the Knicks and Jazz exhausted their options on Monday, Rose and Barret’s agent, Bill Duffy, began to finalize the extension deal that players from the 2019 draft class were eligible to sign.

Barrett averaged 20 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game on 40.8 percent shooting from the field and 34.2 percent from downtown. Barrett is one of only five players to amass 3,000 points, 1,000 boards, and 200 made triples before his 22nd birthday, joining Kobe Bryant, Luka Doncic, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James in the exclusive club.

Barrett was the centerpiece of several negotiated trade packages between New York and Utah, but there were hurdles about the amount of unprotected first-round picks that would be included in the deal and whether or not Quentin Grimes would be involved in the agreement. Any deal that didn’t include Barrett would mean New York had to offer more future draft picks to sweeten the deal.

Once the Knicks were adamant about signing Barrett to an extension, reality set in that New York’s front office would have a much more difficult path in acquiring Mitchell. But that doesn’t mean New York and Utah have ruled out restarting negotiations at some point. Talks could begin before the start of training camp per Woj. Of the 179 players to have a poison pill provision in their contract, only one, Devin Harris, was traded.

In the case of a trade, the poison pill is computed with a formula that would put the Knicks’ outgoing salary for a Barrett trade at $10.9 million but require the incoming compensation for a team acquiring him to be $26.2 million. The restriction will be lifted next offseason, July 1. Because of this development, the Jazz and Knicks would need a third team with salary-cap space to redirect Evan Fournier’s $37 million contract.