It looks like the next time Enes Kanter gets consistent playing time as a starter, it won’t be coming with the New York Knicks.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Wednesday morning that the Knicks are in talks with the Sacramento Kings to trade the expiring contract of Kanter’s for Zach Randolph, who will also be a free agent following the 2018-19 season.
Despite Kanter making $18.6 million this year, the Kings have the flexibility to pull off this deal as they currently have around $11 million in cap space. Trading Randolph’s $11.6 million would give them plenty of space to fit the rest of Kanter’s deal.
Wojnarowski added that nothing is imminent as of yet and that a third team might be needed to help facilitate the deal seeing as the Kings are looking to clean house of veteran, expiring contracts. The Kings are poised to have four players hit unrestricted free agency following this season as Iman Shumpert, Kosta Koufos, and Ben McLemore are set to join Randolph on the market.
Because the Knicks have 15 players on their roster, it means they could not take on another of Sacramento’s expiring contracts unless they waive someone. Hence why a third team might be needed.
The deal would provide a return to New York for Randolph, who spent 80 games with the Knicks between 2007-2009. It was one of the best stretches of his career as he averaged 18 points and 10.6 rebounds per game.
At 37 years old, Randolph’s better days are obviously behind him and it would be shocking if the Knicks attempted to retain him next should they acquire him.
For Kanter, it provides a much-needed change of scenery as his playing time continues to be sporadic under first-year head coach David Fizdale.
The 26-year-old has not started in six games despite being one of the team’s most talented offensive weapons without Kristaps Porzingis. While he’s developed into a defensive liability, he’s averaging 14.4 points and 11 rebounds per game this season.
It’s clear that the center does not fit in the team’s plans under Fizdale and general manager Scott Perry as the Knicks are on the verge of possibly making some big changes to the roster this offseason. Offloading Kanter allowed Fizdale to take a closer look at all corners of the roster, which include young big men Mitchell Robinson (recovering from injury) and Luke Kornet.
It also depletes the talent of a 10-31 team rooted to the bottom of the standings, which only helps their chances of getting Zion Williamson with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft.