The Pelicans kick off play on opening night of the Las Vegas Summer League with a July 5 showdown against the New York Knicks and the No. 3 overall pick, R.J. Barrett.
Without missing a beat, his new coach, David Fizdale, responded, "Welcome to NY", drawing loud laughs from the assembled crowd.
"It feels great", Barrett said.
"It's fantastic to be Canadian", said Barrett, who went third overall to the New York Knicks.
The Memphis Grizzlies have wasted no time replacing veteran point guard Mike Conley by selecting Murray State sophomore Ja Morant with the second overall pick in the National Basketball Association draft. NY turned down overtures to move down from the No. 3 pick, because they had targeted Barrett from the moment they landed there in last month's draft lottery. "We laid out a plan when [general manager] Scott [Perry] came on board and then David joined us, that we were going to build this team the right way". It became apparent he was going to be a flawless fit from a culture standpoint.
While the Knicks were hoping for the first pick as they had the best chance, it was robbed from them and the Pelicans are going to honored to have the opportunity to select Zion Williamson.
Barrett knows his Knicks history, so he realizes how meaningful it was to be cheered by the NY fans at Barclays Center on Thursday. "I knew that was the place I wanted to be".More news: Evidence suggests Saudi Crown Prince is liable for Khashoggi murder - United Nations
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Barrett was emotional after being selected, tearing up while embracing his father, Rowan, a former professional basketball player.
Williamson secured a guaranteed two-year contract worth about $19,977,120, which is 120 percent of the base value. "I wouldn't be here without her", said an emotional Williamson. "Obviously, he's a tremendous passer, will be able to find me throughout the game".
While praising the newest Knick's all-around game, Perry stressed Barrett must improve as shooting threat.
Perhaps the most notable aspect of this deal is the fact that the Atlanta Hawks have gone from six picks in the 2019 NBA Draft to only three: The #4 pick, the #10 pick and the #57 pick from New Orleans. They get credit for the taxes in the lower-tax state.
The media pressure will be too much for R.J. Barrett in NY?
"I think we won today", Schlenk said.