CHICAGO — The Knicks interviewed a bunch of the top prospects in Chicago and sent their front office and scouts to watch some more at the combine. But with the way the draft is already shaking out, there’s only one name to keep in mind: RJ Barrett from Duke.
Barrett is the obvious top prospect leftover if, as expected, Zion Williamson goes No. 1 to New Orleans and Memphis picks Murray State’s Ja Morant second.
Barrett, it should be noted, has ties to New York. His mother is a Brooklyn native and his father played basketball at St. John’s. Both Barrett and his father were born in Canada.
“RJ is a very confident kid,” said Nickeil Alexander-Walker, the Virginia Tech draft prospect who knows Barrett as a fellow Canadian. “Going into New York you need to have some self-confidence and pride in yourself and I think that he’ll bring happiness to the Knick fans.”
Of course, Barrett may not make it to New York even if he’s drafted third. The Knicks are trying to pry Anthony Davis from New Orleans and the pick will have to be included in a package. But there’s also a chance the trade crumbles – along with New York’s free agency dreams – and Barrett becomes the focus of next season.
In the meantime, the Knicks were doing their diligence in Chicago. They interviewed Morant, Barrett, Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver and Duke’s Cam Reddish, among others. They also sent a large contingent of executives and scouts to take in the first day of the combine Thursday, lead by president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry. David Fizdale, however, was not present and left Chicago after conducting interviews.
Barrett also left Wednesday for L os Angeles after meeting with the Knicks and Grizzlies.
Morant, on the other hand, stuck around after his sit-down with Fizdale and Knicks brass.