New York Knicks center Enes Kanter has a player option for the 2018-19 NBA season. He’s prioritizing the Knicks, but has other suitors.
Come June 29, either Enes Kanter or the New York Knicks will be tasked with a decision that will alter their respective and collective futures. Kanter has a player option for the 2018-19 season that will pay him upwards of $18.6 million, but he also has suitors in free agency.
Kanter opting in would put the decision entirely in his hands, but a decision to enter free agency would create quite the dilemma.
New York plans to limit its spending to short-term contracts that help it preserve cap space for the summer of 2019. Kanter opting in would facilitate that vision, but in the event that he opts out, Scott Perry would face an internal debate about whether or not to re-sign him.
According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, Kanter wants to stay with the Knicks, but wants to know there’s mutual interest.
"“I want to be with the Knicks, but I don’t know what’s going to happen on the last day,’’ Kanter said. “Teams are calling. I want to hear what the Knicks want to do first. If they say you’re free to walk away, I may just talk to other teams. But it’s Knicks first.”"
Forgive the pun and cliche, but the ball is in New York’s court when it comes to retaining Kanter’s services for the 2018-19 season and beyond.
To be clear, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Kanter will opt in for the 2018-19 season. It could indicate that he wants to opt out and sign a new contract with the Knicks, thus facilitating the understandable need for job security.
Perry and the Knicks, however, would benefit greatly from Kanter opting in for the 2018-19 season, even if the $18.6 million figure does sound daunting on the surface.
If Kanter were to opt in, the Knicks would have his Bird rights in 2019—meaning they could sign a max-level talent and go over the cap to bring him back.
Finances aside, Kanter has become a fan favorite who embodies the traits of the Knicks of yesteryear. His toughness and fearlessness on the court helped give New York an identity before Kristaps Porzingis‘ injury, and his leadership could be of greater value than ever before.
With a young core of unproven talent, and Porzingis sidelined for an undisclosed period of time, the Knicks need a leader in the locker room and a reliable scoring threat to alleviate pressure.
The question is: Will Enes Kanter still be around to provide those contributions to the New York Knicks in 2018-19?