In more draft news coming out of Chicago this evening, Jonathan Givony of ESPN is reporting that the Grizzlies have zeroed in on Murray State point guard Ja Morant as their pick for the No. 2 overall selection in this summer’s 2019 NBA Draft.
Memphis, still looking for a new head coach after the ousting of J.B. Bickerstaff, will look to count on Morant to join last year’s lottery selection Jaren Jackson Jr. in leading a rebuild that began with the trade of franchise cornerstone Marc Gasol earlier this year and could see Gasol’s longtime running mate Mike Conley be traded soon as well.
Last night’s runner-up finish in the lottery was a serendipitous turn of events for Memphis, who only had a 12.3% chance of landing a top-2 pick. For months now, it was rumored that the Grizzlies would have preferred to lose their pick (top-8 protected) to the Celtics, but that was under the assumption that the pick didn’t land at the top of the draft.
However, because the Grizzlies kept their 2019 pick, the Celtics now own Memphis’ 2020 first-round pick if it falls out of the top six. In other words, it may pay for Grind City to be at the bottom of league standings again next season, making it all the more likely that Conley is traded sooner rather than later.