The Run Up to 2019 NBA Draft

This is — for memory’s sake — how things are playing out in the days before the 2019 NBA Draft.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019:

  • NBA rumours are building before Thursday’s draft. Knicks are expected to take RJ Barrett — but now a point guard out of Vanderbilt — Darius Garland — is moving up the draft ladder. Knicks working him out last second — tomorrow. This is the way Russell Westbrook rose just before the draft.
  • Al Horford has announced today he’s opting out of his contract in Boston and becoming a free agent — prompting some Boston fans to tweet pictures of nuclear bombs.
  • Kyrie Irving is going to Brooklyn — all rumors have it. Brooklyn has left D’Angelo Russell hang out to dry.
  • ESPN reported today that Atlanta offered the Knicks their #8 and #10 overall picks for the Knicks #3 pick, but Knicks told them to take a hike. Who do they think Scott Perry is, Scott Layden? Or Teflon Donnie Walsh?
  • New Orleans is rumored to be trying to trade up from their #4 overall pick to #2 to snare RJ Barrett before the Knicks take him, to team Barrett with Zion Williamson.
  • Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina is working out in Dallas with Kristaps Porzingis while the rest of the Knick team is working out in NY. Ntilikina expected to be traded; maybe they’ve already told him.
  • Yahoo Sports reports Chris Paul and James Harden now hate each other and Paul has demanded a trade.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019:

Not much news today! Except:

  • Woj reported that the Knicks had their workout with Darius Garland and are still set on drafting RJ Barrett. So that is huge news for Knicks fans.
  • Memphis unloaded Mike Conley and his $34M a year contract to Utah, meaning it looks like they’ll pick Ja Morrant in the draft at #2. Conley will be 32 in November 2019. Isiah Thomas retired when he was 32. Conley has two years left on his max contract but is still playing well enough to help Utah. Utah gave Memphis Grayson Allen, Kyle Korver and Jae Crowder, the 23rd pick in Thursday’s Draft and a future first-round pick.
  • Oklahoma City has increased its efforts to shed salary along with the No. 21 pick en route to dodging luxury tax, league sources say. Steven Adams, Andre Roberson, Dennis Schroeder all very available at the moment.
  • A lot of teams are trying to “Trade into Cap Space” — example, according to Woj, Boston has offered center Aron Baynes — $5.4M expiring contract — into salary cap space elsewhere, league sources tell ESPN

Thursday, June 20, 2019:

  • In the hour before the draft, a number of big trades went down, and Woj had them all. Shams was shutout. Woj broke the Atlanta trade up to #4 pick, and he broke a Minnesota trade of Dario Saric for the #6 pick.
  • As the draft started, both Woj and Shams did not tweet the first 3 picks. At #4 they both started tweeting the expected pick in the minutes before the pick was officially announced. They were neck and neck. Woj kept using the term “are focused on” — for example, “Barring a trade, the Cavaliers are focused on Vandy guard Darius Garland with the No. 5 pick, league sources tell ESPN.”
  • Woj moved ahead of Shams on picks 6 and 7 — while Shams had nothing for us, Woj was posting “Minnesota is on the clock for No. 6 — and still on the phones discussing trade propositions, league sources tell ESPN.”
  • The Knicks as expected, picked RJ Barrett. Then there was this interview on MSG in which Knick GM Scott Perry gave a hint as to who they would pick in the second round:

  • Scott Perry did indeed pick a Wally Sczerbiak — Ignas Brazdeikis — a 6’7 shooter from Lithuania via Minnesota, where he was a top 3-pt shooter and scorer.
  • After the draft, the Knicks signed the following undrafted players:
    • Kris Wilkes of UCLA to a 2-way deal. According to Marc Berman of NY Post, the 6’8″ Wilkes “didn’t want to be taken in second round for a two-way deal so he chose free agency and hopes to play his way into a real deal for Knicks. Ala Allonzo Trier.”
    • VJ King of Louisville
    • Amir Hinton of Division II Shaw University
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