Thursday, June 23, 2011
Kyrie Irving says his foot is healed
ESPN.com news services
NEW YORK -- In an NBA draft with plenty of questions, Kyrie Irving says his health isn't one of them.
Irving has long been considered the top pick, though the Cleveland Cavaliers haven't said they will choose him with their No. 1 selection.
And if they are wavering because of that toe injury on his right foot that limited the Duke point guard to 11 games in his lone college season, he insists there's no reason to worry.
"If I had concerns about my foot, I wouldn't have done everything I did at the combine and the workout," Irving said Wednesday. "I don't feel like there's any more questions about my toe or my health."
Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant told ESPN on Wednesday that the team has heavily vetted Irving's injury and is "comfortable" with its status.
If the Cavs do take Irving first in Thursday night's draft at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET), he will be the third point guard in four years to go No. 1, joining John Wall, who went to Washington last year, and Derrick Rose, picked by Chicago in 2008.
The Cavs own the No. 1 and No. 4 overall selections. Grant told ESPN on Wednesday that the team intends to use both picks.
If Cleveland passes on Irving, Arizona's Derrick Williams -- who can play inside or out, at either forward spot, and would bring the mixture of power and athleticism back to a frontcourt that was lost when LeBron James left -- is another possibility at No. 1.
"I feel like I am the most overall ready in this spot by my size and ready to make an impact," Williams said.
Even in what's considered a less-than-stellar NBA draft, the Cavaliers have plenty of options; they're the first team with two picks in the top four since the Houston Rockets in 1983.
They're expected to start with Irving, considered the favorite since the Cavaliers won the lottery last month. Though he spent most of his college career on the sideline, the numbers he put up in his limited time seem too good to pass up.
"It definitely feels good, you know, knowing that I'm still projected to go No. 1," Irving said. "We'll see how it goes tomorrow, but it's an honor to be at the No. 1 spot right now."
The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 17.5 points while shooting 53 percent from the field, 46 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the foul line. He returned from his injury in time to play in the NCAA tournament -- where his Blue Devils were overwhelmed by Williams in Arizona's round of 16 victory -- and he said that proves there should be no question about his health.
"Playing in the NCAA tournament was the deciding factor for me," Irving said. "If I didn't play in the NCAA tournament, I would have been back at Duke for my sophomore season. I just wanted to kind of limit all the questions on my health and durability."
The Cavaliers also pick fourth -- the No. 1 pick was acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers last season in the Baron Davis trade -- giving them the ability to add a big man, perhaps Enes Kanter or another from the lengthy list of Europeans available, if they selected Irving first.
Kanter believes if the Cavs pick both him and Irving, they'll be a playoff contender.
"If I play with Kyrie, I believe we can make playoffs," Kanter said. "I know we can make playoffs."
Information from ESPN's Jeannine Edwards and The Associated Press was used in this report.