May 20, 2011
Turkish big man Enes Kanter is one of the more intriguing prospects in this year's draft. He's skilled, tall, and filled with enough question marks to entice some general managers to take a risk. He also hasn't played organized basketball in more than a year after being declared academically ineligible to play for Kentucky due to a prior relationship with a Turkish club team. And while that incident says more about NCAA rules than Kanter's character, there's some question as to how long it will take him to get acclimated to the NBA.
To his credit, though, he seems to have a plan of attack for interviewing with his prospective employers: only visit with the ones he wants to play for. This should go great!
That's the report from ESPN's Andy Katz, via Chris Littmann on Twitter:
Interesting, @ESPNAndyKatz said Enes Kanter "stood up" Toronto, Milwaukee, Utah for interviews. Guess he won't interview with them at all.
Word is that Kanter is taken with the Wizards, the team led by his (kind of sort of) Kentucky friend John Wall(notes). Washington, D.C., is a much larger market than any of the cities he skipped out on Friday, but they also may be several years away from success.
Kanter's Gambit here is pretty clear: He wants to force these teams to pass on him so that he can end up with a city and franchise he likes. It's a strategy Ricky Rubio(notes) employed in 2008 with poor results -- the Minnesota Timberwolves picked him and he has spent the last two years in Spain. Kanter can do much the same and possibly even avoid Rubio's state of limbo. Because he's not currently tied to any team, Kanter can choose to spend another year away from professional basketball and reenter the draft next season.
The problem there is that, given that he's already sat out a year and spent his last season of amateur ball facing below-average competition, it's likely that one more year on the sidelines would make Kanter a far less intriguing prospect. Teams like potential, but they also like proven results, and Kanter's draft profile in 2012 would be based on one stellar performance in the Nike Hoop Summit two years prior with nothing substantive to follow. Like all draft prospects, Kanter already requires a leap of faith. In 2012, it'd be more like an extreme base jump into a chasm of doubt. Kanter has some amount of leverage, but he might not be in quite as solid a situation as his behavior indicates.