RJ Barrett is likely to break the Knicks pick trend in the first round

The Knicks have not retained any of their first-round picks for a multi-year extension since point guard Charlie Ward, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who was drafted weeks after their loss to the Rockets in the 1994 NBA Finals.

If that seems like a long time ago, consider that in the 25 years between Ward’s selection and RJ Barrett’s third overall pick in 2019, the Knicks have picked 20 players in the first round, including those recently failed and quickly jettisoned Lottery picks Frank Ntilikina and Kevin Knox.

Of course, some of those 20 players were dealt their draft-night rights, and one (French big man Frederic Weis, 1999) is known to have never appeared in an NBA game. Again, only David Lee (drafted 2005) and Kristaps Porzingis (chosen 2015) were named to an All-Star team during their time with the Knicks.

Barrett’s recent rise to star level should greatly improve his chances of breaking that trend and landing a multi-year extension, with his offensive streak continuing 24 points in 33 minutes in Sunday’s win over the Clippers in Los Angeles.

RJ Barrett
RJ Barrett broke to 24 points in just 33 minutes against the Clippers.
Getty Images

The former Duke star had already picked up his fourth-year option ($10.9 million) for next season last September, but Barrett, 21, can seek a five-year extension in July, worth up to Apply for $181 million. If not signed by October, he would become a restricted free agent in 2024.

At the start of Monday’s game against the Kings in Sacramento, Calif., the left wing averaged 28.8 points in five appearances since the All-Star break and 23.9 points in 25 contests since Dec. 31.

If that surge continues through the team’s final 18 games, Barrett — who is averaging 19.0 points per game this season — could potentially overtake Julius Randle (19.6) for the team’s lead.

RJ Barrett
RJ Barrett featured in the Knicks’ win over the Clippers.
Getty Images

“Obviously I can use my power better now. I watch a lot of movies to be more effective on certain rides and certain situations,” Barrett said Sunday night in Los Angeles. “I got stronger and [I’m] learn the game more.”

Ward received a seven-year extension with the Knicks in 1999 after his original five-year entry-level contract expired, but has a long list of subsequent first-round picks — including Channing Frye, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Jordan Hill, Iman Shumpert, Tim Hardaway Jr., Porzingis, Ntilikina and Knox never made it to a second contract with the Knicks.

The Knicks re-signed Lee on a one-year deal after his rookie contract expired, but they sent him to the Warriors in a sign-and-trade in 2010 — earning him a six-year, $79.5 million contract — for the unforgettable Returns of Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf, Kelenna Azubuike and two second-round picks. RJ Barrett is likely to break the Knicks pick trend in the first round


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