Everything RJ Barrett said about the Knicks (and Brooklyn, too)

Ian Begley
SNY

Presumptive No. 3 pick RJ Barrett would welcome the opportunity to play for the Knicks

"It would be a lot of fun, playing in the Garden, the bright lights," Barrett said at a Pro Day hosted by his agency, BDA, in California on Tuesday. "They have so much history down there. It would be amazing."

If the Knicks don't select Barrett with the No. 3 overall pick, it would surprise evaluators who see this as a three-player draft (Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and Barrett). 

 

Barrett, 18, met with the Knicks at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago and will likely work out for the club prior to draft night on June 20. 
"[Meeting with the Knicks] was great…. We had a great and honest conversation so it was good," Barrett said. 

Barrett said he has no preference where he goes, although he does have New York ties. His mother, Kesha, is from Brooklyn and his father, Rowan, played college basketball at St. John's, so he visited the Big Apple often growing up. 


I like Madison Square Garden," Barrett said during an interview with a small group of media outlets on Tuesday, including SNY. "I got to play there, but my family is from Brooklyn. So I guess that's my favorite part [of New York]."

One Knicks legend in particular would like to see Barrett continue playing at the Garden on a regular basis. Bernard King lauded Barrett's athletic ability and basketball IQ and believes he would be a good fit with the Knicks. 

"Bernard King said something great about me?" Barret said with a smile. "Wow, he's one of the best. Definitely honored, very thankful for everything."

Some scouts view Barrett, who averaged 22.6 points on 46 percent shooting in his freshman season, as a playmaker/ball-handler at the next level. He brushed off a question on Tuesday about the importance of having the ball in his hands in the NBA. 

"I feel like the ball will find me regardless," he said. ".… you've got to be able to play team basketball to win."

Barrett shot 30.8 percent from beyond the arc this season but expressed confidence that his shot can and will improve. 

"That's why you workout. You try to get better every year," he said. I got better from high school going into this year and I'm definitely going to be better into next year." 

He also wouldn't be devastated if he ended up in New Orleans as part of a Knicks' trade to land star big man Anthony Davis. Such a transaction would presumably land Barrett with his former Duke teammate, Zion Williamson. 

"That would be cool, too. I'd still be in the NBA and would be able to live out my dreams so that would be fine," he said. 

The Knicks are expected to work out several top prospects ahead of the draft, including Texas Tech's Jarrett Culver. There are members of the organization who are high on Culver, a 6-6 shooting guard. The Knicks will also take and make calls about potentially trading their No. 3 pick ahead of the draft. 

Here's what Barrett had to say on a few other topics: 

On his godfather, Steve Nash: "He just really told me to continue to work hard. The work ethic - that's how he became a two-time MVP."

On the Knicks: "(David) Fizdale is a great coach, they have a great crew there. I know Kevin Knox and Allonzo Trier, but just to see the team that they have - we'll see what happens." 

On the idea that he was overlooked playing alongside Williamson: "Being a top pick in the draft, that's credit enough. I don't really look for the spotlight, I don't look for any of that stuff, I just want to play basketball." 

On his season at Duke, which ended with a loss to Michigan State in the Elite Eight: "I had no idea it could be that great. We didn't win but other than that it was the perfect season for us and for me, I felt like I was able to show everything that I can do." 

On playing wing in the NBA: "I love being a wing because I feel like they can play the point guard position a little but then they can also get down there, down low with the bigs. I feel like that's the perfect position to be and I'm really excited to see how my game translates."

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