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The question of whether Alex Kirk will or won’t go to the National Basketball Association has been answered.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, the most talked-about NBA team this offseason, inked the 7-foot former Los Alamos standout Monday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Kirk’s agent, Graham Boone, said it was a multi-year deal.
Should Kirk make the Cavaliers team for the 2014-15 season, his contract will be for no less than the current NBA rookie minimum of $507,000.
Boone, who said Monday he, Kirk and the Cavaliers have been working the deal for some time, said at least part of Kirk’s contract money was guaranteed — meaning he would receive that money regardless of anything else that happens between now and the end of the contract.
“We’re happy to get this contract signed and delivered,” said Boone, who has been representing Kirk since shortly after his graduation from the University of New Mexico this spring.
Kirk could not be reached for comment as of press time. The Cavaliers released a statement following the signing but didn’t comment further beyond that.
With his signing, Kirk is the first athlete from Los Alamos since 1980 to sign a contract with a major American pro sports franchise. The last to do so was former National Football League player Walt Arnold.
The Cavaliers, of course, made headlines last month after it was announced that former star and Ohio native LeBron James, widely regarded as the best player of the current NBA crop, would be returning to Cleveland, where he played for seven seasons before leaving to join Miami in a overly-publicized move that left a bad taste in more than a few Cleveland fans’ mouths.
James played for Miami for four seasons, leading the Heat to four straight NBA Finals, winning two of them. Miami lost to San Antonio in June’s championship series.
The current roster situation for Cleveland is somewhat up in the air at this point. Currently, there are no less than 17 players with either a roster spot or signed with the Cavaliers — as of this morning, Kirk had not been added to Cleveland’s official roster.
Cleveland has reportedly been in trade talks with the Minnesota Timberwolves involving All-Star Kevin Love and the Cavs’ last two No. 1 picks Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett.
For Kirk, he wasn’t selected in the June NBA draft, but was invited to join the Cavaliers for their Summer League games in July, a tournament held in Las Vegas, Nev.
With the Cavaliers, Kirk played five games in the summer, averaging 15.4 minutes per game. In those games, he averaged 5.2 points and 3.4 rebounds, hitting better than 50 percent of his shots from the floor.
Boone said the Cavaliers’ organization was a good fit for Kirk, as the Cavaliers have been looking for depth, particularly with their big men.
“This is a very strategic move,” he said. “He fits very well into that system.”
During his career at UNM, which ended in a loss to Stanford in the second round of the NCAA tournament, Kirk scored 1,010 points, making him a member of the vaunted 1,000 Point Club at the school. He was also among the top shot-blockers in school history and was twice named to the Mountain West conference’s All-Defensive Team and was a two-time All-Mountain West choice.
With his signing Monday, Kirk became the third UNM player to sign a pro contract in recent weeks. Cameron Bairstow, who was drafted by the Chicago Bulls, signed a rookie deal with the Bulls, while Kendall Williams signed with the Italian A League.