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New York beat writers seem confident that the Knicks will select R.J. Barrett (or maybe Ja Morant)

A trade of the pick seems unlikely at the moment. Hooray!

NBA: Lottery Draft
What is going on in this guy’s brain? We’ll find out Thursday night.
Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Draft night is nearly upon us, and it appears the Knicks are planning to keep things simple by selecting someone with the third pick instead of using it as a trade chip, although it’s no longer completely certain which top prospect will be available when New York is on the clock.

Ever since the NBA rigged the draft lottery, which resulted in the New Orleans Pelicans receiving the first overall pick, the consensus has been that the Memphis Grizzlies will select Ja Morant second, leaving the Knicks with the option of taking R.J. Barrett. That consensus, however, is no longer quite the consensus it once was, according to some recent reports.

According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, the Pelicans are weighing whether to use the fourth pick — which the team received as part of the trade that sent Anthony Davis to Los Angeles — in a package that would net them the second selection, where they would take Barrett. The benefits of such a move from the Pelicans’ perspective are obvious, as it would enable Zion Williamson to team up with his Duke buddy Barrett.

If that scenario were to take place, it would give the Knicks the option to either take Morant or do something else. Perhaps the team would consider trading the third pick at that point; we know the Knicks recently rejected an offer from the Atlanta Hawks that would have swapped the third pick for the eighth and 10th picks. Probably a smart decision in a draft that is widely thought to contain a true top three.

Newsday’s Steve Popper, meanwhile, is reporting that regardless of whether or not the Pelicans make a move to try and get the second pick, the Knicks “are content to hold onto their spot and take whichever player falls to them,” be it Barrett or Morant.

All of this could be moot, of course, if the Grizzlies determine they just want to keep the second pick and take Morant, which seems highly plausible if you believe that credible reports from last month matter today.

In the event that the Knicks were to take Morant, they’d be adding an extremely talented point guard, albeit one who recently underwent a “minor arthroscopic procedure on his right knee” that isn’t expected to affect his status as he heads into his rookie season, according to ESPN.

Finally, despite the fact that the Knicks are working out Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland on Wednesday — and despite the noise that the Knicks might trade back in the draft — Ian Begley believes that the Knicks wouldn’t pass up on Barrett.

The idea of keeping the third pick and simply taking whichever consensus top three player is there sounds safe, although it’s never safe to assume anything is safe when it comes to the draft...or the Knicks. Those who are smart and experienced will be ready for literally anything to take place this summer. Frank Ntilikina traded for a second round pick? Almost definitely. Emmanual Mudiay signed for three years, $35 million? Please no. Luke Kornet’s jersey raised to the rafters during some weird offseason ceremony? Who knows?

If you’ve been a diehard Knicks fan for years, you’ve probably been doing a lot of uncontrollable sweating as the days tick down to draft night, because we’re getting ever closer to the day that roster moves can actually be made. Hopefully the Knicks are capable enough to know that, barring an outrageous trade offer that no one is going to make, they should use the third pick to simply take Barrett or Morant, whichever is available.

The draft is this Thursday, June 20, at 7 p.m. Judgement day is nearly upon us.