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Did RJ Barrett extension set the market for Tyler Herro, Jordan Poole?

Corey Robinson and Kurt Helin discuss RJ Barrett's four-year extension with the New York Knicks and what the new deal means for both parties moving forward.

Ja Morant got his obvious max rookie contract extension this summer. Zion Williamson and Darius Garland got their slightly less obvious but still very understandable max extensions as well.

However, the biggest question marks on the rookie contract extension board remained: the Knicks’ RJ Barrett, the Heat’s Tyler Herro, and the Warriors’ Jordan Poole.

That was until Monday when Barrett signed a four-year, $107 million guaranteed (but could be worth up to $120 with incentives) extension to stay in New York.

Did Barrett’s deal set the market for Herro and Poole?

Not exactly. But yes, in a broad sense.

Barrett didn’t get anywhere near the five-year, $193 million max, and his acceptance of less does set the market for Herro and Poole — none of them are getting the max. None of them are deserving in the way Morant is, but you know they held out hope.

However, the situations of Herro and Poole are also different from Barrett.

Herro is the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, but as the Sun-Sentinal’s Ira Winderman points out he has started just 33 games across three years — Barrett started more than 70 each of the past two seasons. Herro has his skills: he can shoot the rock, get hot, can do some secondary play creation, and has had big playoff games. Herro puts up numbers — 20.7 points a game, shooting 39.9% from 3 last season — but he struggles defensively (which caused his role to shrink at points in the playoffs) and has yet to prove he can start (although he wants, and likely gets, that chance this season). Herro is not as well-rounded a player as Barrett.

Another key difference between Herro’s position and Barrett’s (again, pointed out by Winderman): Barrett was the No. 1 option for the Knicks last season, he had to carry a heavy shot creation load. Even with the signing of Jalen Brunson, Brunson is at worst option 1B in New York. Herro is option three or four in Miami (depending on how Kyle Lowry bounces back this season, but both trail Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler). The Heat don’t need Herro the way the Knicks need Barrett — but Barrett also got the ball because of the Knicks roster at the time; Herro walked onto a loaded team after the draft.

There also is no rush for the Heat to extend Herro — the second he signs an extension he comes off the table as a trade chip. Herro is a key piece of the Heat’s offers for Donovan Mitchell and Kevin Durant, and while neither of those deals is anywhere close there is no reason for the Heat to slam the door. Herro has to sign his extension by Oct. 18, six weeks away. Why would the Heat take that off the table now? Miami may decide not to offer Herro a reasonable extension to keep him trade eligible through the February deadline, then decide on an extension next summer (sort of like the Suns did with Deandre Ayton).

Jordan Poole’s situation in Golden State is different because he is a proven playoff star — he was arguably the Warriors’ second-best offensive player through the postseason and was critical to the team winning a title.

Dalton Johnson at NBC Sports Bay Area compared a Poole extension to what Anfernee Simons got with the Trail Blazers (four years, $100 million) and the Knicks’ Brunson (four years, $104 million guaranteed, up to $110 million with incentives). Barrett is right in that same ballpark.

Poole also struggles defensively (similar to Herro, although not as much as the Blazers’ Simon) but has proven himself on a big stage, earned the trust of players such as Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, and can be a bridge to a future with Jonathan Kuminga (and maybe James Wiseman). Poole’s role this coming season may grow.

The Warriors also have big-picture finances to consider — they had the highest payroll in the NBA last season and set a record with their luxury tax payment. The Warriors and Clippers will be right at the top again this season. Curry and Klay Thompson both make more than $40 million a season, the Warriors want to extend Andrew Wiggins (at less than the $33 million he will make this season, but still at a number well above $20 million), Draymond Green is extension eligible (the Warriors want to deal with that next summer, but Green can opt-out and be a free agent then), and extensions for Kuminga and Wiseman are coming. The loss of Otto Porter and Gary Payton II shows that despite the cash cow that is the Chase Center, there is a limit to the Warriors’ spending.

Where does Poole fit into that equation? And at what number?

One other thing to remember with Herro and Poole (and Barrett and every rookie extension this year): The salary cap is expected to go up dramatically in the NBA in the next five years. Revenue is already increasing post-pandemic (*knock on wood*) and a new television deal should start in 2025. While Barrett or anyone else at $25-30 million a season may seem high, in a few years that number will look more like standard starter money and not be so bad.

It’s a lot to figure out for teams, but Barrett is the first domino.