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NBA scouts split on if New York Knicks’ $120M RJ Barrett extension is the right move

To many New York Knicks fans, the team giving RJ Barrett a nine-figure extension was the right move. However, some talent evaluators around the league see a lot of risk in the 22-year-old’s new contract.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that with discussions between the Knicks and the Utah Jazz on a Donovan Mitchell trade having once again stalled, the organization switched gears to finalizing a long-term extension with the best young talent on their team, RJ Barrett. Negotiations on a new deal have been ongoing for months, and with Mitchell trade talks hitting another roadblock, the Knicks decided to secure their future, and make history in having him be the youngest player the franchise has ever given a nine-figure deal to.

Related: RJ Barrett lands four-year extension with the Knicks, ends Donovan Mitchell trade talks

There is no doubt that the Duke alum is a player on the rise. While his rebound and assist numbers have remained strong and steady over his first three seasons, his points have increased every year to the point where in 2021-2022 he finished the season averaging 20.0 points per game. A clear sign that the third overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft has All-Star potential and could continue to develop into an elite talent. Making the Knicks’ decision a logical move for an organization that has a lot invested in Barrett.

Some scouts believe New York Knicks star RJ Barrett may have already hit his peak

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Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

While the contract extension makes sense on several levels, scouts around the NBA are unsure if Barrett is a player deserving of the $120 million contract the team gave him this week. On Wednesday, The Athletic’s NBA insider Sam Vecenie went in-depth on Barrett’s potential and thoughts from talent evaluators around the NBA. And how some see major upside in Barrett, while others believe he may have already peaked.

  • RJ Barrett stats (2021): 20.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.0 APG, 34% 3PT

“From a simple evaluation perspective, some scouts believe in the shooting improvements he’s made, while others don’t seem to buy his touch and ability to be consistent long term. Some people in league circles will point to his aggressiveness and physicality as a driver as a reason to buy him long term, while others worry about the fact that he’s more of a below-the-rim athlete and don’t love his touch at the basket.

“Some love his ability to get downhill, but others question what happens from a decision-making perspective in terms of his shot selection and passing once he gets that head of steam. From a value perspective, some see him as a future All-Star; others are less sold and think he’s probably just a starter.”

Scouts opinions on RJ barrett

The prospective extension would run through the 2026-2027 season and pay Barrett over $30 million in the final two years of the deal.

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