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Is RJ Barrett Trade Bait?

It doesn’t seem likely but you can never, ever be sure.

Utah Jazz v New York Knicks
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 04: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz in action against RJ Barrett #9 of the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 04, 2020 in New York City. The Jazz defeated the Knicks 112-104.
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

With the sudden availability of Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, New York is quite interested. But there could be a heavy price for the Knicks: RJ Barrett.

Barrett, as you will remember, is not just a Knicks player. He’s a hardcore fan and in many ways, he’s become the heart of the team.

He’s also a major fan favorite.

But everyone and everything has a cost. So is New York willing to go there? Depends on who you ask.

Some places started reporting Thursday that New York would not include Barrett in any trade.

Others suggest that Utah would prefer Miami’s Tyler Herro to Barrett, largely because he’s more offensively oriented and would be a better natural replacement for Mitchell.

The reality of the NBA is only a handful of players are too valuable or important to not be traded. Currently it’s maybe Stephen Curry, Ja Morant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic, Joel Embeed, Jayson Tatum and a healthy Zion Williamson. That’s about it. Anyone else could be traded at any time.

But Barrett is in sort of a gray zone. He’s nowhere near that level, but his effort, heart and clear love of the New York Knicks make him difficult to trade. Very few players bond with a team and city the way that he has and trading a guy like that has some real risks, not least of all with the fan base.