At last week’s NBA Draft Combine, Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland surprised many observers when he left the event early. This fueled a series of rumors that suggested Garland didn’t stick around for long because he already received a draft promise from one of the teams set to select in the lottery in next month’s NBA Draft. While those reports didn’t make mention of any specific team, the latest update on Garland’s situation suggests that there are two teams — the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns — that could have told Garland they’ll be picking him on draft day.
Citing a report from the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson, Silver Screen and Roll wrote that there are “multiple” NBA executives who assume that the Lakers, who will be picking fourth overall next month, or the Suns, who have the No. 6 pick, made the draft promise to Garland. The Vanderbilt star, who joined the Commodores for the 2018-19 NCAA Division I season, only played five games in his freshman year before suffering a season-ending meniscus injury.
As noted by Silver Screen and Roll, draft promises outside of the top three could be “hit or miss” at this point, with exactly one month to go before draft day on June 20. The publication cited the example of the Lakers’ supposed draft promise to center Mitchell Robinson prior to last year’s draft, as Los Angeles ultimately decided to use their first-round pick on Michigan power forward Moritz Wagner. Robinson, meanwhile, fell to the second round but saw significant playing time for the New York Knicks in his rookie year.
With that in mind, Silver Screen and Roll speculated that it wouldn’t be a shock if it turns out the Lakers were the team who gave Garland a draft promise. Aside from the fact that the 19-year-old point guard is younger than other prospective No. 4 picks such as Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver and Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter, the outlet noted that Garland, being a Klutch Sports client, shares the same representation as Lakers superstar LeBron James.
Given the rampant rumors that the Lakers will be using their No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft as trade bait for a veteran superstar like Anthony Davis, per CBS Sports, it’s far from sure whether the team will hold on to Darius Garland in the event they draft him. As for the Phoenix Suns, Garland is one of a handful of players among this year’s draft prospects who could potentially fill the team’s long-standing need at point guard. However, a report from AZCentral noted last week that he was not among the players included in the Suns’ “updated” short list of potential draftees at the No. 6 spot.