For weeks, the Wizards have been linked with Turkish big man Enes Kanter, a big man who has already received an endorsement from John Wall and could provide a physical, interior scoring presence for the team. Kanter hasn’t hid his desire to play in Washington, but his agent, Max Ergul, has intimated that the Wizards need to move up in order to get him. So, now comes the speculation about possible deals for Kanter being discussed.
ESPN.com’s Chad Ford floated out that Cleveland is exploring making moving the fourth overall pick to Washington for picks No. 6 and No. 18. The deal would help the Wizards increase their chances of drafting Kanter, who is also rumored to be headed to the Cavaliers -- or possibly to Utah at No. 3.
Jonathan Givony with DraftExpress.com is reporting that the Wizards are also trying to work out a similar deal with the Jazz to get the third pick for Nos. 6 and 18.
The Wizards put Kanter through a series of individual drills on Friday in Chicago. Assistant Don Zierden had to take the pounding while trying provide resistance for the 6-foot-11, 260-pound forward in the low block. Considering how easily he scored over Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger during the Nike Hoops Summit two years ago, you can imagine how that worked out. It was pretty unfair.
The 19-year-old Kanter likes to bang inside, but is able to step out and shoot as well. He isn’t particularly athletic, but he is very skilled. Such a move would ensure that the Wizards would get a coveted player. Even if Minnesota makes a stunning choice and takes Kanter at No. 2, Derrick Williams would be there to get scooped up as well. But a person with knowledge of the Wizards’ thinking denied that the team has been in talks with Utah.
I asked a rival Western Conference executive about the possibility of Utah dealing the third pick and he pointed out that the Jazz would probably have difficulty getting one of the players it has targeted at sixth. Point guard Brandon Knight probably wouldn’t slip past Toronto in that scenario.
Cleveland is reportedly interested in Lithuanian forward Jonas Valanciunas, but his stock has dropped since his buyout agreement with his team, Lietuvos Rytas, prohibits him from playing in the NBA next season. Ford speculates that the Cavaliers would take Valanciunas at sixth, get a shooter such as Jordan Hamilton or Marshon Brooks at 18.
I spoke with sources within the Wizards and Cavaliers organization and both denied that the teams have held any discussions about a possible swap of picks. Of course, that doesn’t mean that nothing will happen by then.
But the danger in making such a move is that if the Jazz takes Kanter, then the Wizards would lose a valuable asset (the 18th pick) and would have to draft a player that would likely fall to sixth either way.
This time of year is always the hardest to decipher what’s real and what’s fake, what’s meant as a distraction and what really has traction. Teams often have a difficult time telling the truth around the draft, as they attempt to protect their intentions so that they can get the players they truly desire.
When asked about rumored deals involving Minnesota and Cleveland during his news conference on Tuesday, Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld declined to comment on specifics, but spoke in generalities about discussions that he’s had in recent days. “We’ve had conversations, there’s no question about it,” Grunfeld said, then added, “I wouldn’t believe all the rumors that are out there.”