Report: R.J. Barrett declines workout with Grizzlies, excited about Knicks, who could trade down or out

Dan Feldman
NBC Sports

The Grizzlies reportedly intend to draft Ja Morant with the No. 2 pick.

R.J. Barrett apparently doesn’t want to change their mind – even with the Knicks, who hold the No. 3 pick, potentially fast-tracking around Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and/or Anthony Davis.

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Jonathan Givony of ESPN:

The Grizzlies’ ownership group is still telling people around the league the team is locked in on Morant, but the front office has requested to have Barrett in for a private workout — something he has declined but might revisit over the next three weeks, sources told ESPN.

Barrett is scheduled to work out for New York on June 10. As I reported from the combine: Although sources say Barrett would be excited about landing in New York, the Knicks planned to do their due diligence by making calls on trade options and evaluating other prospects in the top 10.

New York has explored the possibility of trading back in the lottery, sources told ESPN, perhaps to acquire pieces that better complement potential high-volume All-Star free agents (such as Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving). Trading the No. 3 pick for the Atlanta Hawks’ two first-rounders (Nos. 8 and 10) is under consideration by the Knicks, one source said.

Teams should always research their decisions as thoroughly as possible.

Morant looks like the second-best prospect in this draft (behind only Zion Williamson). But Memphis should thoroughly explore Barrett and other prospects before finalizing that decision.

Likewise, Barrett looks like the third-best prospect. But he’s hardly a lock to flourish in the NBA. His shooting, defense and selfishness are real questions. It’s worth considering trade down for multiple prospects, even if each is individually less likely to succeed.

Of course, if New York lands veterans like Durant, Irving and Davis, that changes everything. The team will prioritize winning immediately, and a rookie wouldn’t fit well – especially a high-usage one like Barrett. Unfortunately for the Knicks, they won’t know on Durant and Irving until after the draft (though there could be backchannel talks beforehand). Trading for Davis would probably require sending the No. 3 pick to the Pelicans.

If that appears like a possibility, Barrett could always change his mind and work out for the Grizzlies.

But, as the consensus third-best prospect in this draft, it seems likely he’ll go No. 3. The big question: To which team?

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