NBA Trade Rumors: Examining Top Draft-Day Buzz for 2019 NBA Draft

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJune 20, 2019

Duke forward RJ Barrett (5) reacts after scoring against Michigan State during the first half of an NCAA men's East Regional final college basketball game in Washington, Sunday, March 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon/Associated Press

The 2019 NBA draft is officially here. While it seems a foregone conclusion that Duke's Zion Williamson and Murray State's Ja Morant will be the first two picks in the opening round, there is some uncertainty after that.

Duke's RJ Barrett seems like the safe choice for the New York Knicks at No. 3, but is he the definite pick? Not with 100 percent certainty.

Let's take a look at some of the latest buzz on the Knicks' third-overall selection and some of the latest draft rumors with Round 1 looming.


Knicks Could at Least Consider a Trade but Likely Eying Barrett

If the Knicks aren't sold on Barrett at No. 3, they could consider trading down in the draft. At least, they've been listening to trade offers, according to SNY's Ian Begley.

"The Knicks have listened to offers to trade down in the draft and it's logical to expect them to continue to listen to those offers until they make a selection on Thursday night," he wrote.

Begley mentions Vanderbilt's Darius Garland and Duke's Cam Reddish as players New York could target if it does move down a few slots from No 3. However, he doesn't believe the Knicks will actually pass on Morant or Barrett—depending on which one is still on the board.

This is a sentiment shared by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, who doesn't believe Wednesday's workout with Garland will steer the Knicks away from Barrett:

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland had his workout with the Knicks today, but New York remains locked on selecting Duke’s RJ Barrett with the NBA Draft’s third overall pick on Thursday, league sources tell ESPN.

Nothing is set in stone until New York makes its selection, obviously. The right trade offer on draft night could cause the Knicks to move back and take their second option—which is likely why they've done their homework on players like Garland, Reddish and Texas Tech's Jarrett Culver.

As of now, though, it appears Williamson, Morant and Barrett will be the first three players off the board.


Pelicans Considering a Trade Back from No. 4

Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Things will get really interesting at pick No. 4. The Pelicans hold that selection thanks to their deal sending Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers. With Garland—a late but strong riser in this draft—likely sitting there, New Orleans is going to get offers.

According to Jonathan Givony of Draft Express, the Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls are all teams considering a trade up to secure Garland:

Jonathan Givony @DraftExpress

Darius Garland will conduct a last-minute workout in Tarrytown with the New York Knicks tomorrow, a source told ESPN. Garland is in serious consideration for the No. 3 pick. Minnesota, Boston, Chicago are teams looking at potentially trading up to No. 4 with Garland in mind.

Givony has also mentioned the Atlanta Hawks, who could offer the eighth and 10th overall selections for the No. 4 pick. and the Pelicans are considering that route:

Jonathan Givony @DraftExpress

Source: The Atlanta Hawks have been aggressive exploring trades packaging the No. 8 and 10 picks to move up in the draft. Their offer to the Knicks for the No. 3 pick was apparently rebuffed. The Pelicans are considering the possibility of trading the No. 4 pick for 8+10.

For New Orleans, a deal does make sense. It acquired point guard Lonzo Ball as part of the Davis deal and doesn't have an immediate need at the position. By turning a potential backup in Garland into two other quality prospects, the Pelicans would conceivably get more immediate value out of their draft class.

For the teams interested in Garland, a trade would also make sense. Though he had an abbreviated 2018-19 season, he is a talented point guard—and he definitely doesn't lack confidence.

"I humbly say this, I think I'm the best (guard) in the draft," the 19-year-old said, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. "I mean, I think I can do everything that an NBA team wants me to do."


Teams Inquiring About Jaylen Brown

Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

The Celtics are interested in trading up in the draft—specifically for Garland, according to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

He also pointed out they have three first-round selections but aren't likely interested in using all of them:

"The Celtics own the 14th, 20th, and 22nd picks, the byproducts of the Jayson Tatum trade (the 14th pick), the Jeff Green trade (20th pick), and their own at 22.

"There is opportunity to land impact players with each pick. But the Celtics don’t want to take three rookies into training camp, so expect one of those picks to be dealt for a future first-rounder or a draft-and-stash."

While dealing picks for future selections is certainly on the table, the Celtics could also use them to move up in Round 1. However, these aren't the only potential trade chips they could use to make a move up.

According to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe, teams up top are asking about the availability of former third-overall pick Jaylen Brown:

Adam Himmelsbach @AdamHimmelsbach

Have heard from a few places today that some teams near the top of the draft are wondering about Jaylen Brown's availability.

Could the Pelicans be one of those teams? Perhaps. Adding Brown and a mid-first-round pick could be more enticing for the new-look Pelicans than taking the best player available at four. Brown is at least a somewhat proven player, having averaged 13.0 points per game and shooting 46.5 percent from the floor this past season.

Whether Boston actually has a shot at No. 4 and Garland remains unknown. However, the Celtics could be movers on draft night, and Brown could be part of a trade package.