UK Men's Basketball

Agent says Kanter has shot at No. 1 pick

Enes Kanter has had two private workouts with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland has the No. 1 and No. 4 selections in the first round of the NBA Draft.
Enes Kanter has had two private workouts with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland has the No. 1 and No. 4 selections in the first round of the NBA Draft.

CLEVELAND — The agent for Turkish center Enes Kanter said he doesn't think the Cleveland Cavaliers have decided who they'll take with the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft.

On Monday, Kanter had his second private workout with the Cavaliers, who own the Nos. 1 and 4 overall picks in Thursday's draft.

Agent Max Ergul said the 6-foot-11 Kanter, who has raw skills but imposing, ready-for-the-pros size, met with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert.

"Enes told me he liked it," said Ergul, who believes the club is still weighing its options. "I have no prediction with what they are going to do and I think they are going to wait and take it down to the very last moment. And why should they announce it now? That would ruin the surprise."

The Cavs have been extremely guarded in their plans for this draft, which they hope can speed their rebuilding in the aftermath of LeBron James' departure and a 63-loss season.

Cleveland has been intentionally silent because the club wants to keep its options open and potentially raise the interest in a player to make a trade.

In addition to its first-round picks, the Cavs have two selections in the second round (Nos. 32 and 54) and own a $14.5 million trade exception they got in a sign-and-trade with Miami last summer in the deal for James.

Duke point guard Kyrie Irving has been Cleveland's expected choice at No. 1, and the Cavs were the only team the 6-foot-4 player worked out for this spring. Irving played in only 11 games as a freshman for the Blue Devils because of a foot injury he says has healed completely.

Also on Monday, the Cavs hosted Kentucky point guard Brandon Knight and Arizona forward Derrick Williams. Knight, who averaged 17.3 points and 4.2 assists last season, could be an option for the Cavs if they take Kanter or Williams instead of Irving at No. 1, but that seems unlikely.

Kanter is somewhat of a mystery to most NBA fans. He hasn't played basketball in nearly a year after being ruled ineligible at Kentucky. In the past few weeks he has worked out for several teams, showing off his solid post moves and a better-than-average perimeter game.

Last week, the 19-year-old visited the Minnesota Timberwolves, who have the No. 2 pick in the draft.

"I want him to go a team where he's going to be most used," said Ergul, who was in Chicago. "He wants to go to a team that he can make a playoff contender and he wants to be the face of the city where he plays."

T-wolves also like Kanter

The Timberwolves' pick at No. 2 might come down to a choice between Derrick Williams and Kanter.

"He's a confident kid," Wolves assistant general manager Tony Ronzone said of Kanter. "In America, most big kids don't like playing basketball. He actually likes it. He's addicted to it. He's just got a motor. He's a quick learner. He wants to be good. He plays hard. He loves to play the game. He'll be in the gym forever."

Kanter moved to Chicago after Kentucky's season ended to work with Tim Grover, Michael Jordan's former trainer, on the city's west side. Ergul, his agent, also lives in Chicago and suggested Kanter rent a place downtown near him in the city's high-rent, high-rise Gold Coast neighborhood.

"He said, 'We'll have a lot of time to be in the high rise,' " Ergul said. "He wants to be by the gym. What 18-year-old wants to be next to the gym rather than on the Gold Coast? That's character."

Minnesota welcomes Rubio

MINNEAPOLIS — From dance team members waving pompons to signs reading "We Love You Ricky!" and a full-page ad in the local newspaper, the Minnesota Timberwolves pulled out all the stops to make Ricky Rubio feel welcome on the day of his long anticipated arrival from Spain.

About 200 people — many of them Timberwolves employees — gathered at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport Monday to cheer the 20-year-old point guard as he emerged from customs for his first extended stay in Minnesota.

The Timberwolves, and their downtrodden fans, have waited two years for the flashy passer to come over from Spain. Rubio was drafted fifth overall in 2009, but he stayed in Europe for another two seasons until he could afford to buy out his professional contract with FC Barcelona.

Rubio made his official announcement on Friday, a few days after his Spanish team defeated Bilbao in the ACB League finals.

The news has energized fans who have watched the Wolves lose 132 games the last two years, and dozens showed up at the airport to roll out the welcome mat for a player they believe will help turn things around.

One fan asked Rubio to sign his hand.

"Your hand?" Rubio asked with a quizzical look on his face. "All right."