What the Knicks' RJ Barrett extension means for Kevin Porter Jr. and the Rockets

New York Knicks v Washington Wizards
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The New York Knicks and Houston Rockets both have extension eligible guards in RJ Barrett and Kevin Porter Jr. The Knicks just signed up to keep Barrett in the Big Apple for four more years. Will that hurt or help the Rockets in their negotiations to keep Porter?

The New York Knicks and RJ Barrett are close to agreeing to a four-year $120 million rookie extension, according to reports. The third overall pick in the 2019 draft, Barrett joins Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, and Darius Garland as the only players from the 2019 draft to sign rookie extensions in excess of $100 million. While Barrett’s contract pails in comparison to Williamson and Morant’s five-year $193 million to $231 million extensions, it’s still a pretty penny and does present the Houston Rockets and Kevin Porter Jr. an interesting wrinkle in their still unresolved extension talks. 

The Rockets and Porter have both expressed interest in getting an extension done, but it’s clear that the two sides remain far apart. According to reports, the Rockets want to have as much cap space as possible in the summer of 2023, and $9.7 million, Porter’s projected cap hold, is the number the Rockets would like to extend him at. Because pen hasn’t been put to paper, one can reasonably assume that Porter has been angling for a contract that exceeds $10 million a season. With Barrett’s $30 million per year extension now as a data point in negotiations, the calculus for both sides has been altered dramatically. 

Kevin Porter Jr’s career at a glance

Porter was selected with the 30th pick in the 2019 draft and thus far has looked like your usual 30th overall selection. The career average win shares produced by the 30th pick between 1976 and 2020 is 12.8. While that figure could grow as players drafted more recently improve that mark, Porter’s 1.1 career win shares in his first three seasons put him on pace to exceed that mark 35 seasons from now. 

Win shares are not a perfect metric, especially for valuing guards, but his career box plus/minus (BPM) of -2.7, a far more guard friendly metric, still shows a player that has a ways to go to be a productive NBA player. Porter has shown improvement throughout his career, especially on offense, going from -3.2 offensive BPM as a rookie to -1.1 in year two and a -0.1 this past season. 

Porter’s growth is fantastic for his career propositions and because of the RJ Barrett extension, potentially his bank account. It may come as a surprise, especially to Knicks fans, but there isn’t much to separate Barrett and Porter over their first three seasons.