Alex Brandon/Associated Press
The Knicks and Lakers hold the Nos. 3 and 4 selections, respectively.
The New Orleans Pelicans figure to take Duke forward and consensus top prospect Zion Williamson at No. 1, and the Memphis Grizzlies are “locked in” on Murray State point guard Ja Morant, per Jonathan Givony of ESPN.
Barrett isn’t ranked lower than third in any of the six mock drafts aggregated by Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype, so it’s hard to see how he’d slip below No. 3.
Barrett probably won’t be headed for Los Angeles, as the Knicks would likely take him before L.A. has the chance.
However, it’s conceivable that the Knicks try to package the No. 3 pick in exchange for New Orleans Pelicans All-Star big man Anthony Davis, who requested a trade in January.
Ian Begley of SNY reported that Davis, who is a free agent after the 2019-20 season, would be open to re-signing long-term in New York. The Knicks also have a group of talented players under 25 years old (Mitchell Robinson, Dennis Smith Jr., Kevin Knox) who could help entice the Pels into a deal if New York includes some future first-round picks, as well.
Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report wondered about the possibility:
Jonathan Wasserman @NBADraftWass
If Anthony Davis trade request stands, wonder if the Pelicans would have interest in re-pairing Barrett with Zion. Knicks could offer Barrett + multiple first-rounders + more young talent.
New York could also simply move forward with Barrett, who averaged 22.6 points and 7.6 rebounds during his lone season at Duke. He entered the year as the class of 2018’s No. 1 recruit, per 247Sports, and looks like he’ll be scoring 25-plus points per night for years.
ESPN’s Jalen Rose (h/t Adam Zagoria of the New York Times) thinks New York should hang onto the pick:
Adam Zagoria @AdamZagoria
“RJ Barrett could easily be the best player in the draft. If I’m the Knicks, yes I hold on to the pick.” – @JalenRose https://t.co/Ne9SKrJreS
And Tommy Beer of Rotoworld noted the Knicks will be getting a “stud” regardless of whether it’s Barrett or Morant:
Tommy Beer @TommyBeer
Knicks get the 3rd pick.
I know Knicks fans don’t want to hear this right now, because they lost out on Zion, but getting a top-3 pick is a win. NY beat the odds to land No. 3.
Knicks will likely draft either Ja Morant or RJ Barrett.
They are getting a stud.
The odds probably favor Barrett starting his NBA career in the Big Apple. But if a Davis trade occurs, landing in New Orleans with ex-teammate Williamson wouldn’t be a bad outcome.