Knicks: RJ Barrett reflects on time in New York following trade to Raptors

RJ Barrett, Knicks, Raptors
Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

RJ Barrett has no sour grapes when it comes to his recent trade from the New York Knicks to the Toronto Raptors.

In fact, he recently spoke with Marc J. Spears of Andscape on the growth he experienced in New York and his role in helping the franchise ascend from a moribund state to contention in the East, saying:

“I helped build something in New York,” Barrett said. “When I came there we weren’t good. I left it a lot better than when it started. (It’s) definitely bittersweet, but I’m happy for those guys over there. They are happy about the trade they made and I wish nothing but the best for them.”

RJ Barrett Helped the Knicks Reach the Playoffs For the 1st Time in 7 Years in His 3rd Season

When Barrett was drafted by the Knicks in the summer of 2019, the franchise was in the midst of great struggles. Kristaps Porzingis forced his way out of town and joined the Dallas Mavericks months prior on Jan. 31, 2019.

The Knicks finished the 2018-19 campaign dead last in the Eastern Conference at 17-65. Barrett was the first encouraging building block the Knicks brought in ahead of the 2019-2020 campaign, and along with a later addition of Julius Randle, helped the Knicks reach the playoffs in 2020-21 and improve by 20 wins that year.

The Knicks Thrived With Barrett in the Lineup And On His Job As a Scorer

Barrett was instrumental in the Knicks’ rapid turnaround. He played all 72 games in that same 2020-21 shortened season and the Knicks went 22-11 when he scored 20 or more points.

The following year, the Knicks went 4-8 in the 12 games Barrett did not suit up for, showing his impact on winning when in the lineup.

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Barrett Takes His Trials and Triumphs to a Raptors Franchise in Need of His Talents

Though Barrett experienced some struggles in the playoffs, he grew as a scorer, and without his services as a secondary scoring option and later tertiary piece behind Randle and Jalen Brunson, the Knicks likely would not have reached the heights that they did.

Now in Toronto, Barrett has taken his invaluable experiences gained in New York to a Raptors team that is still looking to rebound after the departure of Kawhi Leonard following their 2019 NBA championship run, and more recently, Fred VanVleet this past offseason. Barrett will have more room to expand his game in Nick Nurse’s offense, which the Knicks will be ready for when the two teams meet up on Jan. 20.