General manager Scott Perry knew RJ Barrett eventually would be a Knick when he visited their Tarrytown campus June 10 and wowed them.
“He came in and won our building over,’’ Perry said on a conference call Thursday night after Barrett officially became a Knick with the third pick in the NBA draft at Barclays Center. “When we bring guys in, we allowed them to spend time with the front-office staff, coaching and medical staff. It became apparent he was going to be an excellent fit from a culture standpoint. He did nice things on the court when he worked with coaches. He reaffirmed what we had seen during the college season. … We were comfortable remaining in the draft position at 3.’’
It wasn’t always that way. There were mixed views on Barrett within the organization, but Perry held firm, according to a source. Last June, coach David Fizdale drove home the Kevin Knox selection.
Before Barrett’s visit, an NBA source said the Knicks were hoping Ja Morant would fall to No. 3.
Perry remained Barrett’s biggest fan. Perry saw Duke plenty this season, has watched Barrett since early in high school and decided not to trade back — despite offers. The 17-65 tanked season could become worth it if Barrett turns into an All-Star, as some expect.
“We love a lot of things about this young man, starting with his tremendous competitive level and desire to want to be great as a basketball player,’’ Perry said. “He’s won everywhere he’s been since he was 13 years old. He’s always sought out challenges.”
Team president Steve Mills wasn’t on the conference call.
Perry didn’t try to sugarcoat Barrett’s weaknesses, particularly his 30.2 percent 3-point shooting last season with the Blue Devils.
“We think he has room to grow as a basketball player,’’ Perry said, adding that Barrett still must become “a consistent perimeter shooter, something he knows.
“With form and mechanics, we felt confident with lot of work and repetition and with our developmental coaching staff, it’s something very attainable. He could be a better decision-maker with the ball in his hands because he’s a very capable passer.’’
The Knicks liked Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland, who worked out for them Monday, and Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver, but weren’t budging at No. 3. New Orleans toyed with moving to No. 2 to snatch Barrett.
“I didn’t have a lot of concern about getting to 2,’’ Perry said. “Memphis was locked in on their pick [Morant] and I didn’t think they were moving it. We had a couple of phones calls about 3. We felt good, sticking to our plan, growing, developing through the draft. … We felt at No. 3, we felt he has most upside as a player and best fit for our culture we’re trying to establish here.’’
Nevertheless, this looks like another rebuilding year, even if the Knicks land their pie-in-the-sky tandem of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in free agency. Durant will miss next season with an Achilles rupture, giving Barrett a chance to be a top-three option.
All rights and copyright belong to the author:
Source – https://nypost.com/2019/06/21/when-the-knicks-knew-they-were-going-to-draft-rj-barrett/