The Knicks have one key piece they must be willing to trade

The New York Knicks have been mulling over the acquisition of a star player to form a powerful trio with Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson. The catch, however, involves the potential departure of their 23-year-old guard RJ Barrett.

Declining Paul George Trade Due to Barrett’s Inclusion

Recently, the Knicks declined a proposed deal involving the seasoned talent of Paul George due to the requirement of Barrett’s involvement in the trade. Initial discussions suggested the offering of Obi Toppin, Quentin Grimes, and several first-round picks for the seasoned player, but the insistence on Barrett’s inclusion became the deal-breaker for New York.

Barrett’s Performance and Potential

Barrett, who had a less-than-stellar 2022–23 season, still has potential to offer. Averaging 19.6 points, five rebounds, and 2.8 assists, with a .434 field goal percentage and a .310 three-point shooting percentage, Barrett’s performance showed room for improvement.

His numbers have been on a downward trend since achieving a career-high three-point shooting percentage of .401 in the 2020–21 season. Despite this, many believe Barrett still possesses a reservoir of untapped potential that may be revealed in the upcoming season, making him a valuable asset for other teams.

Financial Considerations

Barrett, who recently signed a four-year, $107 million extension, will earn $23.8 million for the 2023–24 season, with the figure climbing to $29.6 million in four years. Given the contracts being awarded currently, these figures will be easily justified should Barrett reach his potential.

Weighing Trade Options

Knicks President Leon Rose is wary of acquiring a star plagued by durability issues. While George is an exceptional scorer, he also represents a significant risk. Barrett, on the other hand, could be used as leverage in a trade for a player like OG Anunoby, who not only offers strong defensive skills but also possesses considerable offensive upside.

Potential Trade with Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors, however, would demand a substantial package for Anunoby, who is nearing 26 and is in the midst of his prime. The small forward posted an average of 16.8 points per game last season, with a .476 field goal percentage, a .387 three-point shooting percentage, five rebounds, two assists, and 1.9 steals per game.

In any proposed trade for star talent, it appears Barrett would be the primary asset the Knicks would have to part with.