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It’s looking like a 60-player draft

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We have that and more in Thursday’s NBA newsletter.

2019 NBA Draft - Media Availability Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

Is the 2019 NBA Draft, scheduled for 7 p.m. ET Thursday on ESPN, a three-player draft? A four-player draft? No, no. It’s a 60-player draft. Trust me. I checked Wikipedia.

It seems like this particular draft might be famous for all of the other stuff happening around it. This, of course, began last weekend when the Pelicans traded Anthony Davis to the Lakers. On Wednesday, some more stuff happened. The Grizzlies traded franchise icon Mike Conley to the Jazz for two firsts, Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver, and a Ted Cruz impersonator. The Bucks sent the No. 30 pick in this draft to the Pistons along with Tony Snell, who is due $12 million in 2020-21, salary that would really hurt Milwaukee’s bottom line. The Bucks got Jon Leuer back. The Hawks traded the No. 44 pick to the Heat for a future second.

In terms of the draft itself, there seems to be three big interlocking questions that will be resolved (we think) in the first half-hour:

1. Who will the Knicks pick at No. 3? New York had Darius Garland in for a last-minute workout, but it still looks like R.J. Barrett will be the guy.

2. What will the Pelicans do with the No. 4 pick? Vijay Vemu breaks down the options on the table.

3. Who will package picks to trade up into the top 10, and which player are they targeting? The Hawks and Timberwolves have been mentioned most, but any number of teams could find an opportunity to leap up to grab a prospect they fall in the love with.

There’s no drama at the very top, but it sounds like this will be an interesting draft regardless of what happens around it. Check on Thursday night for fun coverage.

We have a tanker

The Grizzlies didn’t tank in 2017-18 or 2018-19. They were just bad. Actually, Memphis wasn’t awful last season — they won 33 games, which was just about their preseason over-under win total — but got lucky in the draft lottery to end up with the No. 2 pick and, presumably, Ja Morant.

But now this team is tanking, 100 percent. By trading Conley to the Jazz for picks months after trading Marc Gasol to the Raptors for cap relief, Jonas Valanciunas, and Delon Wright, more or less, Memphis is signaling that it will fully turn the team over to the kids from training camp on. Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. have a lot riding on their success, and the Grizzlies have a pick outstanding to the Celtics that could be painful to relinquish if Memphis doesn’t turn it around quickly. But this doesn’t look like a quick turnaround job, does it?

With a Silicon Valley franchisee, the youngest GM and coach in the NBA, and no mandate whatsoever to win, this could get real bleak before the Grizzlies are good again. Here’s for the best.


Tell us your name and we’ll write you an NBA Draft scouting report. For example, it says that I have “the #NBATwitter clout to be a max player, but scouts say falling for weird new wellness trends could be an issue.” Believable!

A timeline on how the Celtics went from prospective superpower to nightmare train within two years. Meanwhile, I wrote that the Celtics will probably be fine.

Zach Lowe writes that the Conley trade makes the Jazz a title contender. Kevin O’Connor agrees.

Another idea on how to get rid of the draft in favor of letting people choose where they want to work.

Nice piece by Paolo Uggetti on Kevin Porter Jr.

538’s draft prospect projections.

Love this piece on Natasha Cloud’s activism.

Are the Warriors’ doctors trustworthy?

Woj is in fact unleashed on Twitter for the draft. Pick tipping should probably begin in 3 ... 2 ...

Be excellent to each other.