3. RJ Barrett is poised to become the Knicks’ first option
As mentioned earlier, RJ Barrett is now the highest-paid player on the Knicks, meaning there is no incentive to keep Julius Randle as the first option. There was always a feeling that Barrett would take Randle’s spot as the first option, and in the past, Randle has seemed fairly open to it and also aware that Barrett is the face of the team.
Obviously, nobody expected the Julius Randle dream season in 2021-22, and although it was beautiful, Barrett’s presence as the face of the team still felt looming in Randle’s best moments. Randle regressed last season, and now most of the fan base hates him and acts like he isn’t the sole reason why we aren’t on a decade-long streak of missing the playoffs.
Regardless of all of this, the $120 million man now runs the show. The Knicks want to see what Barrett can do as the best player on the team, and that includes letting New York be his team.
This is also the first time that Barrett will play with a good point guard in Jalen Brunson. Before this, Barrett spent two seasons with Elfrid Payton, who is out of the NBA now, and then one season with a mixture of Kemba Walker and Alec Burks. The latter being a career spot-up shooting wing who, for some reason, coach Thibodeau played at point guard over Immanuel Quickley, which I will never get over, as that is a fireable offense if you ask me.
Barrett now has the most tools around him to succeed than he has ever had in his career. He has never had solid court spacing to work with, but this season is as good as it has ever been for him. He will have his best chance at attacking the rim, which is the best part of his scoring game.
Everything is set in place to work well for RJ Barrett as the first option for the Knicks, and now with a huge extension, we can look to see Barrett go out there and live up to his contract.