As the trade deadline passed, the New York Knicks worked to release Enes Kanter, according to a report.
Enes Kanter seemed on the outside, looking in, with the New York Knicks since head coach David Fizdale removed him as a starter in October. Frequent trips from the bench to the starting lineup continued, only to lose all playing time in January, despite an injury to Luke Kornet.
As this saga continued, Kanter expressed unhappiness in post-game interviews and cryptic tweets. It showcased a fraying relationship, and with the trade deadline ahead, it seemed like an opportune time to part ways.
The Knicks were unable to trade the veteran center’s $18.6 million contract, but they will still work to end this tumultuous past four months and agreed to release him, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. It’s not a buyout.
Per ESPN’s Ian Begley, the Boston Celtics will be among the teams with interest when Kanter becomes a free agent. The Celtics are third in the Eastern Conference and 5.5 games back of first place.
This Kanter transaction was inevitable. Even with an expiring contract, little reason existed to keep an unhappy player on a team that won’t play him. Kornet, Mitchell Robinson and the newly acquired DeAndre Jordan are all ahead in the center rotation.
If, for whatever reason, the Knicks kept Kanter, he likely would have continued the post-game rants through season’s end. Even for just two more months, that’s too long with how this situation developed since the end of December.
Now, the Knicks can move ahead and focus on developing Kornet and, most importantly, Robinson, their 2018 second-round pick. Jordan may continue to play, as well, pending how Fizdale handles the rotations.
The lasting image of the Turkish big man is him kissing the Madison Square Garden floor in a recent Knicks game. It wasn’t his last appearance, playing 13 minutes in a Feb. 1 game against Boston, but he sat against the Memphis Grizzlies and Detroit Pistons on Sunday and Tuesday, respectively, the final matchups before the trade deadline.
Kanter joined the Knicks in September 2017, arriving with Doug McDermott and the pick that became Robinson from the Oklahoma City Thunder, who acquired Carmelo Anthony in return. The 26 year old played 115 games in New York, averaging 14.0 points and 10.8 rebounds.