Not long before news broke that Donovan Mitchell was headed to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the New York Knicks made a major announcement involving RJ Barrett and his massive $120 million extension. The timing was suspicious, to say the least, and apparently, there is indeed more to this than what's on the surface.
According to Knicks insider Marc Berman of the New York Post, extending Barret was never a first priority for the team. In fact, the Knicks already had a timetable in place that did not involve a new deal this summer:
According to an NBA source, the Knicks’ preference was not to sign Barrett to a hefty contract extension at this moment, preferring to at least wait until the mid-October deadline to see him at training camp or even July 1st restricted free agency.
And then, disaster struck. Apparently, the Knicks felt like they had to beat the gun on the Mitchell announcement, and they did just that by extending Barrett's contract:
“They didn’t want to pay RJ now, they like RJ but he’s not one of their guys,’’ the NBA source said. “The preference was to trade him in a Donovan deal. A few weeks ago, if they got Donovan without Barrett in the deal, they weren’t going to pay RJ now.’’
The source said once the Knicks caught wind the Cavaliers were in the lead for Mitchell, they made a move toward agreeing to terms with Barrett.
“They had to do something,’’ the source said.
If this is true, then it appears that Barrett's new deal was merely born out of desperation. As the source said, the Knicks felt like they had to make a move after they were upended by the Cavs on Donovan Mitchell.
For RJ Barrett, however, I guess the most important thing is that he got paid. It may not have come in the best of circumstances, but at least he has now successfully secured his future for the years to come.