The New York Knicks waived disgruntled center Enes Kanter last week and he signed with the Portland Trailblazers after being courted by several teams in the Western Conference including the LA Lakers.
The Knicks were unable to unload Kanter, 26, before the trade deadline. They could not find any teams that wanted to swap for his $18.6 million contract.
The Blazers added depth off the bench with the addition of Kanter. He will be playing behind Jusuf Nurkic, who emerged as one of best centers in the West. Kanter averaged 14 points and 11 rebounds over the last two seasons with the Knicks.
“We’re getting a guy who can really score and rebound,” said Portland Trailblazers coach Terry Stotts. “He’ll help us be a better team.”
Kanter does not come without baggage. He has been targeted with an international arrest warrant for his critical views of politicians in his home country of Turkey.
Going Out West (Again)
The Utah Jazz selected the 6-foot-11 Kanter with the third overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Kanter struggled in his first two seasons before his breakout third-year in the league when he averaged 12.3 points and 7.5 rebounds for the Jazz.
The Jazz shipped Kanter to Oklahoma City in February 2015. He became a free agent at the end of that season. The Portland Trailblazers were interested then he signed a $70 million offer sheet for a four-year deal. The Thunder matched it and he remained in OKC as a backup center. He averaged 14.3 points per game off the bench in 2016-17.
The Knicks traded Carmelo Anthony to the Thunder for Kanter and Doug McDermott before the 2017 season began. In his first year with the Knicks, Kanter started 71 games and averaged a double-double for the season with 14.1 points and 11 rebounds per game.
This season, Kanter continued to post double-double numbers, but he saw his role significantly decline. Kanter clashed with new head coach David Fizdale. He only started in 23 of 44 games this season after starting every game the previous year with the Knicks. Kanter also clashed with the organization’s decision to tank to acquire a top pick in the upcoming draft, such as Zion Williamson. Kanter demanded a trade. The Knicks cut him after they were unable to find a partner.
The Blazers snatched him up and Kanter broke the news on his Twitter feed.
“I look forward to helping the Blazers achieve the ultimate goal of competing for a championship,” Kanter said on social media. “Excited to meet my new teammates, coaches, staff and most importantly the fans. It is a blessing to continue to compete at the highest level. Let’s go Rip City.”
The Blazers made a bold move to strengthen their frontline. Kanter will not be starting and probably won’t get the minutes he’d like, but at least he’s playing for a playoff contender. He’ll be logging valuable minutes in the second half of the season as the middle teams in the Western Conference jockey for playoff seeding.
PDX Northwest Throwdown
The Blazers (34-23) currently hold the #4 seed in the West. They trail the top-seeded Golden State Warriors (41-16) by seven games. The Blazers are 24-8 in front of their faithful fans in Portland, but struggle on the road with a 10-15 record.
The Blazers play in the Northwest Division, which is the toughest in the NBA. They are in third place behind the surging Denver Nuggets (39-18) and the OKC Thunder (37-19). The Blazers are only 4-8 in the Northwest this season.
Damian Lillard leads the Blazers in scoring with 26.3 points per game. His backcourt mate, CJ McCollum, averages 21 points this year. Jusuf Nurkic is third in scoring for the Blazers with 15 points and 10.2 rebounds a game. The super-efficient center his 50.1 percent of his shots. Kanter will be backing him up.
According to the South Point Sports Book and Casino in Las Vegas, the Portland Trailblazers are 200/1 odds to win the NBA championship.
Bad Year for Knicks
The Knicks lost 18 games in a row and have the worst record in the NBA with 10-47. The inept Knicks are on the verge of missing the playoffs for the 15th time in the last 18 seasons. They have not advanced to the postseason since 2013. Fans are hoping Kevin Durant and Zion Williamson will save the franchise next season.
New head coach David Fizdale inherited a cursed job. The Knicks might be the most-valuable franchise in the NBA worth $4 billion, but the fans hate their billionaire owner. Knicks owner James Dolan mentioned he had a feeler offer of $5 billion to buy the team.
Before this year’s trade deadline, the Knicks were unable to convince the New Orleans Pelicans to trade them Anthony Davis. Instead, the Knicks shipped out their best player in over a decade. The Knicks traded Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks for Dennis Smith, Jr. and future draft picks.
The Unicorn trade cleared cap space for the Knicks. they now have enough room to sign two free agents to max contracts in the offseason. The Knicks would love to sign Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. But the way the Knicks are cursed, they will probably sign neither star.