Ja Morant

Williamson, Morant Sign Rookie Contracts

The top two picks in the draft, Zion Williamson and Ja Morant, have officially signed their rookie contracts, according to a press release from the Pelicans and a tweet from the Grizzlies’ PR department.

Assuming he receives a max of 120% of the rookie-scale salary for the top pick, Williamson will earn approximately $9.757MM in his first year, according to Jeff Siegel of EarlyBirdRights.com (Twitter link). Morant would receive $8.73MM if he received the max for the second pick.

Williamson’s salary numbers for years 2-4 would be $10.245MM, $10.733MM and $13.535MM. Morant would get $9.167MM, $9.6MM and $12.1MM over those seasons.

Williamson appeared in 33 games for Duke, averaging 22.6 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 2.1 APG, 2.1 SPG and 1.8 BPG. With Anthony Davis‘ impending trade to the Lakers, he’ll immediately be the marquee attraction for the franchise.

Morant averaged 24.5 PPG, 10.0 APG and 5.7 RPG for Murray State. Morant should step right into the starting lineup after veteran point guard Mike Conley was shipped to the Jazz.

Grizzlies Draft Ja Morant With No. 2 Overall Pick

The Grizzlies have made a long-awaited decision official, formally using the No. 2 overall pick to select Murray State point guard Ja Morant.

Morant, who declared for the draft after his sophomore season, had a huge year at Murray State, averaging a double-double with 24.5 PPG and 10.0 APG. He also chipped in 5.7 RPG and shot .499/.363/.813 in 33 games.

The Grizzlies reached an agreement with the Jazz earlier this week on a trade that will send longtime point guard Mike Conley to Utah. That deal will pave the way for Morant to step in as Memphis’ point guard of the future.

The Grizzlies are expected to move forward with Morant and Jaren Jackson as their long-term franchise cornerstones, building around those two youngsters. Memphis could have the opportunity to add another young player to that core tonight, as the club currently holds the No. 23 overall pick.

Based on current cap projections, Morant will be in line for a 2019/20 salary of about $8.7MM on his NBA rookie contract.

Williamson, Morant, Barrett Will Go 1-2-3

There won’t be any suspense regarding the first few picks on the draft this evening, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. Duke freshman sensation Zion Williamson, who emerged early in the college season as the top talent in this year’s draft will be selected No. 1 overall by the Pelicans.

The Grizzlies will select Murray State point guard Ja Morant with the No. 2 pick. Memphis’ interest in Morant became public shortly after the draft lottery. They opened up the starting point guard spot by agreeing to trade their all-time leading scorer, Mike Conley, to the Jazz.

The Knicks have settled on R.J. Barrett, according to Charania. The Duke swingman was regarded as the likely No. 1 pick before his teammate seized that distinction.

With the Pelicans agreeing to deal the No. 4 pick to the Hawks today, the first four selections seem set in stone. Atlanta reportedly moved up to snag Virginia forward De’Andre Hunter. Duke forward Cam Reddish might be in play for the No. 4 pick but the Hawks are leaning toward Hunter, Charania reports in a separate tweet.

Things will get a little cloudier once the Cavaliers, who hold the No. 5 pick, go on the clock.

Draft Notes: Porter Jr., Little, Pelicans, Barrett

Kevin Porter Jr. could go higher in Thursday’s draft than most observers expect, as Shams Charania of The Athletic passes along. Several executives on teams picking near the top of the draft told Charania that Porter Jr. is high on their board. “He has the gifts to be a top-five pick — easily,” one executive said.

Porter Jr. was expected to work out for the Wizards on Monday, though he pulled out of the appearance over the weekend. Washington owns the No. 9 overall pick. Porter Jr. previously worked out for the Hawks, owners of the No. 8 and No. 10 overall picks.

The USC prospect only played in 21 games while in college, as he dealt with quad and ankle injuries in addition to a suspension. Jonathan Givony has Porter Jr. going to the Nets at No. 27 in his latest mock draft for ESPN.

Here’s more on the upcoming draft:

  • The range for Nassir Little (UNC) likely begins with the Hawks at No. 8, though the Bulls are trying to get him into the building for a last-minute workout this week, sources tell Charania (same piece). During a media session in Washington, Little told Hoops Rumors that the Wizards would be his last workout.
  • The Pelicans have explored moving from No. 4 to No. 2 in order to select R.J. Barrett, sources tell Marc Berman of the New York Post. Barrett and Zion Williamson are best friends and former teammates at Duke. Berman notes that the Pelicans have also explored moving down from No. 4.
  • The Knicks have Ja Morant higher on their board than Barrett, Berman hears (same piece). New York had initial interest in moving back following the draft lottery but the organization is now content standing pat. “The Knicks have a good problem to have — pick three in a three-man draft,” an NBA executive tells Berman. “They just have to wait and see.”

Ja Morant To Meet With Knicks

While top prospect Ja Morant remains the favorite to be selected No. 2 overall by the Grizzlies (link), he’s apparently taking no chances, as Jordan Schultz of ESPN reports that the 19-year-old Murray State product will meet with the Knicks in New York City. The meeting is expected to take place on Friday, per Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

Morant, who recently underwent a preventative surgical procedure on his right knee, also met the the Grizzlies over the weekend. His two reported meetings fit with his projected draft position, as virtually nobody believes Morant will last beyond the Knicks’ pick at No. 3.

One of the reasons that Morant could feel that Memphis is not a sure thing may be a recent rumor that the Grizzlies are looking harder at other options with the No. 2 pick, primarily sparked by the team’s unsuccessful attempt(s) in trying to get R.J. Barrett to come to Memphis for a private workout.

Southwest Notes: Morant, Zion, Valanciunas

Ja Morant met with the Grizzlies over the weekend, as Shams Charania of The Athletic passes along (Twitter link). Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian confirms that the meeting took place and hears that the point guard remains the favorite to be selected with the No. 2 overall pick.

Morant recently underwent surgery on his right knee in a procedure that was deemed preventative. The health of Morant doesn’t appear to be an issue for Memphis, though it’s not certain if the team has seen the 19-year-old’s medical records.

Here’s more from around the Southwest Division:

  • Zion Williamson met with the Pelicans earlier this week, Charania tweets. The Duke star is still expected to go No. 1 overall.
  • Veteran center Jonas Valanciunas has a decision to make on his $17.6MM player option and David Cobb of The Commerical Appeal contends that it may be beneficial for both sides if Valanciunas elects to play out the year under that deal. The 27-year-old may not make that kind of annual salary with a new deal and the Grizzlies would have an opportunity to see if he can be a long-term fit with the club.
  • Austin Rivers recently went on ESPN and spoke about the “frustrating” Rockets offense, as Ameer Tyree of Sporting News relays. Rivers said playing alongside James Harden‘s ball dominant game was difficult at times. “I think it works. We just have to mix it up. I think we have to a better job of mixing it up just a little bit,” the guard said.

Draft Notes: Green Room, Mourning, Simon, Alexander-Walker

Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, R.J. Barrett, Darius Garland, De’Andre Hunter, Jarrett Culver, Coby White, Cam Reddish and Jaxson Hayes were the first nine prospects invited to sit in the Green Room at the NBA draft, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony tweets. There were no surprises on the list, as the first eight comprise Givony’s top 8 prospects and Hayes is ranked No. 11. The invites reinforce that all nine will be selected in the lottery and probably the top 10. Another 11 invites are expected to be made, Givony adds.

We have more draft news:

  • Trey Mourning has a workout lined up with the Heat, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel tweets. Mourning, son of longtime Heat star Alonzo Mourning, averaged 6.3 PPG for Georgetown last season. The 6’9” forward previously visited the Wizards and Kings, Winderman adds.
  • Guard Justin Simon (St. John’s) will work out for the Thunder on Thursday, Adam Zagoria of the New York Times tweets.
  • Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Givony’s No. 22 overall prospect, worked out for the Pistons on Friday, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets. The combo guard, who averaged 16.2 PPG and 4.0 APG for Virginia Tech last season, has already visited the Hornets and Celtics, Beard adds.
  • Point guard Tremont Waters, Givony’s No. 49 overall prospect, will visit the Pacers and Spurs, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington tweets. Waters will probably not do any on-court work as he’s still rehabbing a right ankle sprain suffered at the NBA combine, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post tweets.

Knicks Notes: Morant, Barrett, Hawks, Green

The Knicks never believed Ja Morant was a sure thing for the second pick even before news of his scheduled surgery came to light, a source tells Marc Berman and Mark Fischer of The New York Post. Morant will undergo a minor scope on his right knee tomorrow to remove a “loose body.” Even though the procedure is considered routine, Morant will be sidelined three to four weeks and appears unlikely to play in the Summer League.

The news has sparked rumors that the Grizzlies are looking harder at other options with their No. 2 pick. They reportedly have been sending “mixed messages” about the selection and tried to get Duke’s R.J. Barrett  to come to Memphis for a private workout.

The Knicks had Morant ranked higher than Barrett on their draft board going into the combine, according to Berman and Fischer. Their front office has been watching Morant for a long time and considered him a first-round pick after his freshman season in 2018 based on his potential.

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • Barrett has a lot of fans in the Grizzlies organization, Berman and Fischer add. His Canadian roots add to his appeal for Memphis draft consultant Glen Grunwald, who serves as CEO of Canada Basketball. Barrett has a workout scheduled for New York on June 10, but reportedly refuses to schedule a session with the Grizzlies because he prefers to go to the Knicks at No. 3 or the Lakers at No. 4.
  • The Hawks haven’t been contacted by the Knicks about a rumored trade involving the No. 3 pick and Atlanta’s selections at No. 8 and No. 10, according to Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Cunningham believes Hawks GM Travis Schlenk would be open to a two-for-one deal if he believes the conventional wisdom that this year’s draft is especially top-heavy, but in general Schlenk’s philosophy is to accumulate draft picks and take as many chances as possible at landing a great player.
  • Raptors guard Danny Green is too focused on the NBA Finals to discuss a possible move to New York, but it’s a discussion that could come into play this offseason, Berman speculates in a separate story. A Long Island native, Green will be a free agent this summer and the Knicks will be in the market for shooters. He talked briefly to New York during his last free agency experience. “The (Knicks) reached out (in 2015) and sent a text,” Green recalled. “My deal (four years, $40 million) was done so fast I was pretty much only talking to them. It happened so fast. I was barely a free agent. I knew we had a good crew coming back (in San Antonio) and felt I had a good chance of winning again.”

Ja Morant To Undergo Minor Scope On Right Knee

Another top 2019 prospect will undergo a procedure before this month’s NBA draft, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that Murray State point guard Ja Morant is having a minor scope performed on his right knee on Monday.

The procedure, which will remove a “loose body” from the knee, isn’t considered a serious one. Wojnarowski writes that Morant is expected to be fully recovered in three or four weeks, though I’d be surprised if we see him suit up for his new team during Summer League play next month.

A Friday report indicated that Duke forward Cam Reddish is set to undergo core muscle surgery, so two of this year’s lottery picks will be in recovery mode on draft night. As is the case with Reddish though, this procedure shouldn’t affect Morant’s stock, since he’s still expected to be fully healthy for training camp in the fall.

Despite the fact that the Grizzlies are reportedly sending some “mixed messages” and have tried to get R.J. Barrett in for a workout, Memphis appears very likely to make Morant the No. 2 pick in the 2019 draft. Still, the club will do as much research as it can on the point guard’s knee issue to confirm it’s not a serious concern.

Knicks Not Locked In On R.J. Barrett At No. 3

Most experts view Zion Williamson and Ja Morant as the top two prospects in the 2019 NBA draft, with R.J. Barrett right behind them, making Barrett a logical target for the Knicks at No. 3. However, while New York likes Barrett, the club isn’t locked in on selecting him yet, and is doing its due diligence on several options for that No. 3 overall pick, reports Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com (Insider link).

The Knicks have explored the possibility of trading back in the lottery to pick up an extra asset or two, according to Givony, who points to the Hawks‘ Nos. 8 and 10 picks as a potential match for New York. While one source tells Givony that a trade with Atlanta is one scenario the Knicks are mulling, Ian Begley of SNY.tv hears that such a deal isn’t under “serious consideration” by either club at this point.

Both Givony and Begley point out that the Knicks are fans of other prospects who should be available at No. 3 and could slip further down the top 10. Givony identifies Cam Reddish, Jarrett Culver, Coby White, and Nassir Little as players who are getting a close look from New York, while Begley singles out Reddish and Culver as well. Culver is scheduled to work out for the Knicks on June 5 and Reddish will also have a pre-draft visit with the team.

Still, assuming the Knicks stay in the No. 3 spot, Barrett looks like the odds-on favorite to be their man. He has significant support within the organization and will work out for New York before the draft, says Begley. That workout will take place on June 10, per Givony, who adds that Barrett “would be excited” about becoming a Knick.

Of course, before the Knicks get a shot at Barrett, he’ll have to make it past the Grizzlies at No. 2. Givony, who reported shortly after the lottery that Memphis had zeroed in on Morant, suggests that the team has been sending out mixed messages as of late.

The Grizzlies’ ownership group is still telling people around the league that Morant is their guy, but the front office wants to bring in Barrett for a private workout, according to Givony. Sources tell ESPN that Barrett has declined that request for now, though he’ll have time to reconsider it before the draft.