The year 2023 ended with a bang when the New York Knicks traded RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley to the Raptors for OG Anunoby, Precious Achiuwa, and Malachi Flynn.
New York had been after Anunoby for a while, but Toronto wanted multiple first-round picks in exchange for the wing. With his player option for 2024-25 looming, the Raptors decided to part with him without receiving a first-round pick in return, but they did get a valuable asset in Quickley. Even then, IQ will be a restricted free agent over the summer, but Toronto has the money to retain him.
Quickley will still be a hot name on the free agent market, with possible teams like the Magic or Spurs vying for his services. On the other hand, Barrett isn't set to be a free agent until 2027, as he signed a four-year extension with the Knicks before the 2022-23 season.
On the latest episode of The Lowe Post podcast, Zach Lowe and Kevin Pelton discussed the New York-Toronto trade. Lowe said when he talked about Barrett's contract with front office members and coaches, "toxic asset" is a phrase that was mentioned.
Zach Lowe reveals some front offices think RJ Barrett's contract is "toxic asset"
Zach Lowe also said it was mentioned that RJ Barrett would be a future All-Star. Lowe said he thinks Barrett has "a chance to be a good NBA player" and has shown he can be throughout his career.
Many critiques surrounding Barrett stem from the fact he was a No. 3 pick in 2019. He hasn't performed like a top-three pick, but that doesn't mean he's a bad player. He's had promising flashes, like in the 2023 playoffs, but has an issue with consistency. Now that he's in a new environment, Barrett could unlock a different level of his game.
The four-year, $107 million extension Barrett signed in 2022 kicked in at the start of the season, and he will make $29.6 million in his final year under contract (2026-27). Lowe said he believes Barrett's play could turn it into a "neutral contract," but clearly, people in front offices around the league feel differently.
Although Barrett's with a division rival, Knicks fans should want the best for him. He represented the organization well during his four-and-a-half seasons with the team. As much as some fans may want to see Barrett succeed individually, hopefully, the Raptors don't!
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