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NBA Rumors: Chet Holmgren 'Bailed Early on' Magic Visit to Avoid Being No. 1 Pick

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJune 26, 2022

Catalina Fragoso/NBAE via Getty Images

Most players want to go No. 1 in the draft, but Chet Holmgren apparently did his best to end up going No. 2 to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated reported Holmgren tanked his visit with the Orlando Magic.

"According to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, Holmgren bailed early on the last day of his Orlando visit, conducting a brief on-court shooting workout that he cut short," Woo reported.

The Magic took Paolo Banchero instead at No. 1, leaving the Thunder to select Holmgren with the second pick.

"Now that I'm here, I can officially say this is where I wanna be," Holmgren told reporters after the draft.

Prior to the draft, Ryen Russilo said on his podcast that Holmgren wanted to go to Oklahoma City because of "the opportunities and he has way more freedom because of the roster in front of him than maybe he would in Orlando."

The Thunder have few established players on the roster outside of guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and no proven commodities in the frontcourt. Holmgren can play a significant role right away with his new team and be a key part of the core going forward.

In Orlando, Holmgren might have had to compete for playing time with center Wendell Carter Jr. while battling Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner for offensive touches.

The Magic still could have drafted the talented prospect, but as Woo said, "it’s very hard to use a high-stakes draft pick on a player that doesn’t truly want to be part of your team."

Holmgren's interest in the Thunder was clearly mutual, becoming a perfect match at No. 2. It left the Houston Rockets to select Jabari Smith Jr.—who many projected to be the first player taken—at No. 3.

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