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New York Knicks Signing RJ Barrett, Complicating Donovan Mitchell Trade

A contract extension may signal New York’s intentions for the summer.

New York Knicks v Washington Wizards Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The New York Knicks are signing guard RJ Barrett to a four-year contract extension worth up to $120 million. As the NBA trade and free agency period has unfolded this summer, the Knicks have been rumored as the hottest contender for the services of Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell. Barrett was presumed to be one of the key players in any potential deal. This extension would make such a swap more complicated.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN first reported the deal and explains why it matters in the negotiations between Utah and New York:

Barrett’s deal — which makes him the youngest $100 million player in Knicks history at 22 years old — ends several weeks of trade discussions for Mitchell between New York and Utah, and forces the two organizations, if they choose, to start over talks with significantly different considerations because of the “Poison Pill” provision now in Barrett’s deal.

He also explains the “Poison Pill” provision:

For trade purposes, “The Poison Pill” is computed with a formula that would make the Knicks’ outgoing salary on a trade at $10.9 million but require the incoming salary for a team acquiring him to be $26.2 million. The restriction will be lifted on July 1.

Although Utah is committed to rebuilding—a near-certainty after trading All-Defensive center Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves earlier in the off-season—Wojnarowski indicates that they are not in serious talks with other teams for Mitchell’s services.

Barrett will be a fourth-year player in the coming season. He averaged 20.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in 70 appearances for the Knicks last season. He shot 40.8% from the field, 34.2% from the three-point arc.

Mitchell is entering his sixth NBA season. He averaged 25.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 5.3 assists for the Jazz in 67 games last year. He shot 44.8% from the floor, 35.5% from the arc.