No. 2: Knicks can't afford to trade RJ Barrett
The history of New York sports is of passionate fans who balance both illogical confidence in their teams and deep-rooted insecurity that they're going to be disappointed by them. Those conflicting but complementary emotions often lead them to direct distaste at players who show promise as a future star but take a slow or dead-end road to superstardom.
That's why the name RJ Barrett leaves a bad taste in the mouth of many. The former No. 3 overall pick went in a Top 5 that also included Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and Darius Garland, a trio of All-Stars. Barrett has been good enough to earn a big contract but hasn't yet reached the heights of stardom. He may never get there.
This isn't a reveal of a secret stat that shows how Barrett is actually the best player on the Knicks or poised on the cusp of his star turn. He does continue to improve each season but it's a slow growth that hasn't manifested in 50-point games or unbelievable highlights. He is having his best shooting season, is a more reliable defender, and his passing reads look just a bit crisper.
The Knicks can't trade RJ Barrett because of the way that they have constructed their roster. The 6'7" Barrett starts at small forward, and other than two-way player Dylan Windler, he is the only player in that size range. The best teams tend to stock up on big wings and versatile forwards, but the Knicks have instead collected a bunch of bigs and a ton of guards and are trying to build out an effective rotation from there.
To their credit, that approach hasn't gone terribly, but the Knicks don't have much room for error. If Barrett is unavailable or off the court they are forced to slot 6'4" players in at the forward positions. The Knicks are 1-3 in games against NBA competition without Barrett this year (and an easy win against the Washington Wizards). If they trade Barrett, it needs to be for another forward-sized player; otherwise, their ability to field effective lineups will be stretched past the breaking point.