The Los Angeles Lakers may have missed out on the ultimate prize of the 2019 NBA Draft, but another Duke Blue Devil one-and-done is eager to play in Los Angeles, or at least in one of the league’s bigger markets.
R.J. Barrett, Duke’s second-best player this season, is in consideration for the second pick in the draft, which belongs to the Memphis Grizzlies. However, Barrett would prefer to drop past the Grizzlies, as reported by the New York Post, so that he can play for the Knicks or the Lakers, who pick no. 3 and no. 4, respectively:
According to an NBA source, the 6-foot-7 Duke swingman prefers if he drops past Memphis, to No. 3 or No. 4, to get to play with either the Knicks or Lakers.
Barrett may be in luck, because Memphis has heavily telegraphed that the team has zeroed in on Ja Morant to be the point guard of the future. That means that Barrett’s most likely destination is probably New York, which is exactly what the Canadian prospect wants.
The Lakers haven’t been linked with Barrett yet, likely because the team just learned this week that they will be drafting high enough to consider the Duke product. Los Angeles did meet with his college teammate Cam Reddish this week, though Reddish is a much less exciting prospect. Barrett would be a strong talent for the Lakers to land with the fourth pick, and would be an interesting piece to trade to New Orleans where he could once again play alongside Williamson.
It is unsurprising that Barrett, an 18-year-old, would have sights on playing in New York or Los Angeles. Duke Basketball consistently referred to Barrett as “Maple Mamba” on social media during the past season. Even Zion, who could market himself anywhere in the world, noticeably perked up when the Lakers jumped up in the lottery Tuesday.
We’ll know soon enough if Los Angeles has interest in Barrett once the team starts conducting its draft workouts. For now, it’s just standard practice that everyone gets linked to the Lakers.