New York Knicks: Enes Kanter takes another step towards trade desire

New York Knicks Enes Kanter (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
New York Knicks Enes Kanter (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Enes Kanter said he was promised to start Wednesday’s game between the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets. He never played, and the post-game comments indicated worse outcry than ever.

Enes Kanter seemed in-line to play significant minutes in the New York Knicks’ game against the Houston Rockets. Luke Kornet suffered an ankle injury days earlier, and Mitchell Robinson has foul trouble to sort out before he earns starter minutes.

Well, after 48 minutes and a 114-110 loss, featuring 61 James Harden points, Kanter never played a second. Instead, Lance Thomas started and Noah Vonleh slid into the center spot, providing the Knicks a defensive-minded frontcourt to balance Kevin Knox, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Emmanuel Mudiay.

Kanter, always outspoken as his role diminishes, made his most aggressive comments yet about his status, post-game. Per Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic, the 26-year-old said he was promised a start earlier that day, calling it “messed up.”

Kanter added, the closest statement to a trade request as he’s made since this starter-bench saga began:

Previous post-game interviews had the Turkish big man coy on whether he’d seek out of New York.

At this point, it’s best for the Knicks and Kanter to part sooner than later. The trade deadline is just 14 days away, leaving time to orchestrate a deal, whether it’s with the Chicago Bulls, Sacramento Kings or another interested party.

Whoever assumes Kanter via trade, they owe him the rest of an $18.6 million salary — the largest of any active player on the roster. This high figure complicates almost any transaction, leaving another route possible.

It may be easiest for the Knicks to buy out Kanter, who can pick his destination. Contenders can eye a backup center for the playoff push, and the seven-year veteran provides a low-post presence in this instance, albeit with defensive questions.

Buyout or trade, it’s time for this partnership to end. It worked fine in 2017-18, but the Knicks have taken a player-development direction, which Kanter does not fit; he’s better suited for a veteran-laden approach wherever that may be. Robinson, Kornet, Kevin Knox and Allonzo Trier are the focuses, along with the future draft picks and free agents.

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Kanter’s future is unknown as his unhappiness takes center stage. It’s a combustible situation that will only worsen by the game, pending head coach David Fizdale sits him, again. Given Wednesday’s in-game events, that seems like a possible outcome.