After having signed a lucrative four-year, $120 million contract extension with the New York Knicks this past offseason, now six months removed from the agreement, it appears there are some who believe RJ Barrett has failed to live up to expectations.
Currently in his fourth season in the association, the wing’s career trajectory has seemingly plateaued in his tertiary role alongside the likes of Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson. As a result, questions about his future with the franchise have already begun to circulate.
While there are no true indications that the Knicks have any plans of parting ways with the 22-year-old anytime soon, one anonymous Eastern Conference executive floated an idea to Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney that would package him in a trade this upcoming offseason in pursuit of Portland Trail Blazers superstar, Damian Lillard, in the event that he is shopped.
“(New York) is the most interesting place for him. They have expressed interest in Lillard before but nothing ever came of it. Now, you have the big contract for R.J. Barrett you can deal. You can fill things out with Evan Fournier’s deal. You can include a young guy or two—(Miles) McBride, (Quentin) Grimes, maybe even (Mitchell) Robinson….there are ways to make it work,” the GM told Deveney.
The seven-time All-Star has been found oft mentioned within the league’s rumor mill as of late after publicly stating during a recent media session that he’s not “interested” in seeing the Trail Blazers rebuild after enduring yet another losing season.
Soon after his comments were made reports surfaced that Lillard has been shut down for the remainder of the year, which has some like The Athletic’s Shams Charania wondering if the point guard has officially played his last game with Portland.
As a result, the trade rumors have already begun to make their way through the news cycle, and, according to the Eastern Conference GM who spoke with Heavy, the Knicks could be a prime suitor for his services.
Knicks Wouldn’t Include Immanuel Quickley in Lillard Deal
Though it may take a pretty penny to acquire the likes of Damian Lillard in an offseason blockbuster, the executive who spoke with Sean Deveney is of the belief that Immanuel Quickley would be off the table in regard to negotiations.
“They would not include (Immanuel) Quickley, they are tightening up on trading him. If they are going to deal him it is going to be in a separate kind of thing, where he is the main piece. They think he has too much value now,” the GM said of the idea of Immanuel Quickley being traded by the Knicks.
Now in his third season in the association, Quickley finds himself amid a true breakout campaign with the franchise. Through 75 games played, the combo guard is posting averages of 14.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.5 assists on 44.6% shooting from the field and 36.0% shooting from deep.
His on-court efforts have thrust him into the race for the league’s Sixth Man of the Year award, with some such as ESPN’s Zach Lowe believing that he’s more deserving of winning the honors than some of the other favorites in the category.
NBA Legends Want Damian Lillard on Knicks
The idea of the Knicks trading for Damian Lillard is one that stretches far beyond those in front-office roles around the league.
On a recent episode of Ticket & The Truth, NBA legends and current Showtime Basketball personalities, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, discussed the concept of the point guard making his way to the Big Apple at some point down the line, stating that joining the club could end up doing wonders to his all-time league status.
“Listen, if [Damian] Lillard gets to New York and he does what he does in Portland…he’ll be considered one of the best to ever do it,” Garnett said. “If he has 71 in [Madison Square Garden] like he did in the Rose Garden…it’ll be bigger than life.”
Though the Portland Trail Blazers may have underwhelmed in 2022-23, Damian Lillard still managed to absolutely shine when suiting up for the club.
In 57 games played, the 11-year star went on to post sensational averages of 32.2 points, 7.3 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per game on 46.3% shooting from the floor and 37.1% shooting from distance.