ESPN lists Knicks’ RJ Barrett as ‘top starter’ in 2023 free agent class

The last thing that New York Knicks fans want to happen during the 2023 offseason is for RJ Barrett to leave. He’s eligible for a rookie extension, which can be signed by Oct. 17. If the two sides don’t come to an agreement, Barrett can become a restricted free agent next summer.

Right now, the main focus in New York is Donovan Mitchell. If the Knicks and the Utah Jazz can agree to a trade, Mitchell’s arrival would greatly benefit Barrett. And with trade talks currently stalled, we’ve learned that Utah’s shown interest in Barrett, but according to SNY’s Ian Begley, New York doesn’t have an interest in trading him.

Unless things take a turn for the worst between now and next summer, the likelihood of Barrett leaving the Knicks within the next year is low. At 22 years old, the best is yet to come for Barrett, and New York recognizes that.

But Knicks fans are very familiar with the disrespect that’s been thrown Barrett’s way. He’s been left out of lists that include the league’s best young talent and many believe that he isn’t as good as fans make him out to be. But in a piece that ESPN’s Bobby Marks wrote (subscription required), he listed Barrett as one of the top starters in the 2023 free agency class.

Knicks’ RJ Barrett listed as ‘top starter’ in 2023 free agent class

Obviously, next year’s free agency class doesn’t include every player in the NBA, but Barrett would be one of the bigger names if he doesn’t sign an extension. All of the attention will be on LeBron James, but Barrett would garner interest.

Here’s who else Marks included in the ‘top starter’ category: De’Andre Hunter, Nikola Vucevic, Christian Wood, Myles Turner, Tyler Herro, D’Angelo Russell, Jerami Grant, Harrison Barnes, Bojan Bogdanovic, Kyle Kuzma, Kristaps Porzingis, and Jordan Poole.

Herro’s name stands out the most because he and Barrett have been compared to each other since before they were drafted in 2019. And ironically enough with the Miami Heat being listed as one of the Knicks’ competitors for Mitchell, Herro’s a name that’s popped in trade rumors.

It’s clear that Barrett and Herro are on different paths. New York’s reportedly not willing to give up Barrett while Herro could be traded from Miami so that he could be a starter elsewhere.

The good news for fans is that losing Barrett isn’t something that they should be worried about. Him being a ‘top starter’ for 2023’s free agency class doesn’t compare to him working his way to being an All-Star with New York. And if a Mitchell trade happens, the 2022-23 season is going to be a lot of fun…