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The RJ Barrett extension changes the dynamic of a potential trade for Donovan Mitchell

The Knicks may have taken themselves out of the running for Utah’s star guard.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Utah Jazz Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks signed wing RJ Barrett to a 4-year, $120 million contract on Monday. Since the deal is a rookie extension, it includes a poison pill provision. From the ESPN article:

For trade purposes, the poison pill is computed with a formula that would put the Knicks’ outgoing salary for a Barrett trade at $10.9 million but require the incoming salary for a team acquiring him to be $26.2 million. The restriction will be lifted next offseason July 1.

Essentially it makes it very difficult to match salaries in the trade, as the Jazz would be acquiring a much higher salary than the Knicks would be sending out. That makes it very difficult for Barrett to be the centerpiece of a trade that would send Donovan Mitchell to the Knicks. It doesn’t necessarily take the Knicks out of Mitchell trade discussions, but it certainly reduces the value of the assets at their disposal.

That changes the game for the Charlotte Hornets, who have reportedly engaged with the Jazz in trade talks surrounding Mitchell. The Jazz now have less leverage over non-Knicks teams now that the Knicks have less to offer. It makes it more likely that a surprise team is able to swoop in and snag Mitchell.

Danny Ainge is calling the shots in Utah now, and he clearly wants to rebuild the team from scratch after sending away Rudy Gobert in exchange for future assets. As good a player as Mitchell is, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to keep him around if the team isn’t trying to be competitive. With training camps looming and resources dwindling around the league, the asking price for Donovan Mitchell has to be dropping, and that makes it more likely that the Hornets can get involved and work out a more palatable deal.

I’d still put the odds of the Hornets trading for Mitchell as very low, but they went up a tick after RJ Barrett signed his contract extension.