NBA Draft, New York Knicks

Knicks prefer Ja Morant, unlikely to get him at No. 3

The New York Knicks may prefer Ja Morant over R.J. Barrett, but they’ll have to pray for a chance to get him at No. 3 overall in June’s draft.

The New York Knicks and Zion Williamson seemed to be destined for each other, but it was not to be on draft lottery night as the Knicks fell to the third overall pick. Now, according to the New York Post, the Knicks prefer Ja Morant over Williamson’s college teammate, swingman R.J. Barrett.

In many post-lottery mock drafts, between Williamson to the New Orleans Pelicans at No. 1 and Barrett to the Knicks at No. 3, is Morant to the Memphis Grizzlies at No. 2. Leaving aside the idea of pre-draft subterfuge and misdirection from them letting it out, Jonathan Givony of ESPN quickly reported the Grizzlies are focused on Morant with that second overall pick.

With Mike Conley on the trade block heading into the offseason, and surely gone no later than next February’s trade deadline, Memphis will have a significant void to fill a point guard and Morant is an easy fit.

If the Knicks enter the mix for Anthony Davis, the No. 3 pick is a natural trade chip. Team president Steve Mills, for what it’s worth, brushed aside the idea of trading the pick when asked on Friday.

“We’re here to evaluate the players that are here and we’ll keep moving along in our process,’’

The Knicks should do their due diligence on all the top draft prospects, regardless of what mock draft projections say. Trades happen constantly on draft night, and players obviously do go off the board differently than anyone expects.

But in this situation, the Knicks are left to hope for incompetence on the part of another organization. The Grizzlies might get cute, and either trade down from No. 2 or take someone besides the best player available who also happens to be a great fit. If that happens, the Knicks will presumably not waste much time to write Morant’s name on a draft card.

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