NBA Trade Rumors: Pelicans Exploring Move to Land No. 2 Pick, Draft RJ Barrett

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJune 18, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 29:  RJ Barrett #5 andZion Williamson #1 of the Duke Blue Devils addresses the media after the East Regional game of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Capital One Arena on March 29, 2019 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Duke product and NBA draft prospect RJ Barrett seemed destined to land with the New York Knicks when the Eastern Conference team was handed the No. 3 overall pick on lottery night, but the New Orleans Pelicans could reportedly change those plans.

According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, the Pelicans have "had internal talks about moving up to the second pick" leading up to Thursday's draft.

New Orleans has the Nos. 1 and 4 picks, the latter of which acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers as part of the trade agreement for Anthony Davis. The Memphis Grizzlies have the No. 2 pick and figure to take Murray State point guard Ja Morant, but Berman's report cited an NBA source who said the Pelicans would draft Barrett to pair him with best friend, college teammate and presumed top selection Zion Williamson in this scenario.

The Pelicans have the assets to entertain moving up following the Davis trade agreement. Los Angeles will send them three first-round picks, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart, all of which could be enticing for a Grizzlies team looking to rebuild around Jaren Jackson Jr.

As for New York, Berman's report revealed it had Morant higher than Barrett on its board anyway before the Murray State star underwent knee surgery. If the Pelicans move up to No. 2 and draft Barrett, the Knicks will surely respond by selecting their point guard of the future in Morant.

The idea of pairing Barrett with Williamson as the pillars of the future is an interesting one for New Orleans. They are familiar with each other from their one collegiate season and can work in pick-and-rolls as dual playmakers at the NBA level.

There was some concern about Barrett taking too many of Williamson's shots during their time at Duke—especially in crunch time—but the presence of veteran point guard Jrue Holiday could help mitigate those fears.

Executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin already has the Pelicans well on their way to a quick rebuild following the Davis trade agreement and lottery luck that gave them the right to select a generational talent in Williamson.

He is in line to land yet another young playmaker to work with at Thursday's draft, whether it is through the No. 4 pick or a trade that moves the team up to No. 2.