With little more than a month remaining before the 2019 NBA Draft, it looks like Duke forward Zion Williamson and Murray State point guard Ja Morant are almost sure to be selected with the first two picks. Williamson’s college teammate, wingman R.J. Barrett, is thought of by many experts as the best choice for the New York Knicks and the third overall selection, but there’s also the possibility that he may drop a few places in the draft. With that in mind, a new report suggests that the Canadian standout prefers to be drafted by either one of these two teams.
Citing an unnamed “NBA source,” the New York Post’s Marc Berman wrote that Barrett wants to be drafted by either the Knicks or the Los Angeles Lakers if he doesn’t get picked No. 2 overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, which will be taking place on June 20. The Memphis Grizzlies will be picking second overall, but Berman noted that his source echoed previous rumors about the team wanting to use that selection on Morant, who is also reportedly being coveted by several people in the Knicks’ organization.
As further explained by Berman, R.J. Barrett has a connection to New York as his father, Rowan, played college basketball for the St. John’s Red Storm, and his mother, Kesha, is a Brooklyn native who also attended St. John’s and was part of the school’s women’s track and field team in the 1990s.
“Rowan used to take R.J. to the New York playgrounds to work on his game because of the higher competition,” Berman continued. “[Meanwhile], Memphis is the NBA’s second-smallest market.”
Although Barrett is currently training in Los Angeles, he has yet to meet with the Lakers ahead of this year’s draft. Prior to the New York Post’s report, the Duke superstar has only met with two teams so far — the Knicks and the Grizzlies.
If Barrett ends up with the Knicks or the Lakers in the 2019 NBA Draft, there’s also the possibility that either team might trade him to the New Orleans Pelicans, where he will be reunited with Williamson if the latter team picks him first overall as expected. Both the Knicks and the Lakers are widely considered among the most likely candidates to successfully trade for Pelicans superstar big man Anthony Davis in the offseason, and as predicted by publications such as NJ.com, the two teams could potentially use their high draft picks this year as part of their trade offers for the All-NBA forward/center.